When candidates were asked about their biggest career setbacks at Thursday night’s Democratic debate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg discussed his experience coming out as gay.
According to The New York Times, Buttigieg was initially hesitant to come out, given that Vice President Mike Pence was Indiana’s governor at the time and it was the era of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
“I came back from the deployment and realized that you only get to love one life, and I was not interested in not knowing what it was like to be in love any longer,” he said. “So, I just came out.”
Buttigieg discussed that he was fearful of the career setbacks that would come from his coming out, especially since it was an election year in his conservative community.
“What happened was when I trusted voters to judge me based on the job that I did for them, they decided to trust me and reelect me with 80% of the vote and what I learned was trust can be reciprocated and that part of how you can win and deserve to win is to know what’s worth more to you than winning,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg sait the election is not about candidates or about President Trump, but about the people who trust them with their lives.
Throughout the presidential campaign there has been little talk of the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups, to the point where GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, released a statement at the conclusion of Thursday night’s debate.
“The Trump Administration has spent the last three years rolling back rights for LGBTQ and other marginalized communities, and it’s imperative that LGBTQ people and the issues affecting our lives and our families not be overlooked in this presidential election,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD.
Ellis also described Buttigieg’s coming out story as an “incredible moment” in the Democratic debate.
According to HuffPost, Buttigieg’s story marked the first moment in American history where someone from the LGBTQ community has openly talked about what it’s like to come out on a presidential stage.