Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was approached by a 9-year-old boy at a Denver campaign event Saturday night and asked, “Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too? I want to be brave like you.”
The boy, identified as Zachary Ro, attended the town hall with his parents. He later said he didn’t attend the rally planning to ask that question; it was a spur of the moment decision he came to as he walked in.
“I don’t think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong to me,” Buttigieg, who is gay, told Ro. “It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay, let alone to go out there and tell the world and to see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of 1,000 people, thousands of people you’ve never met that’s, that’s really something.”
Buttigieg did, however, offer young Zachary a few things to think about.
“It won’t always be easy, but that’s OK because you know who you are,” Buttigieg told him. “And that’s really important, because when you know who you are, you have a center of gravity that can hold you together when all kinds of chaos is happening around you.”
He added, “When I was trying to figure out who I was, I was afraid that who I was might mean that I could never make a difference. And what wound up happening instead is that it’s a huge part of the difference I get to make. I never could have seen that coming, and you’ll never know whose life you might be affecting right now, just by standing here. There’s a lot of power in that.”
The South Bend, Indiana mayor came out in an essay he wrote for the South Bend Tribune in June 2015, making him Indiana’s first openly gay elected official. Three years later, he married junior high school teacher Chasten Glezman, who took Buttigieg’s name.
Watch what Buttigieg told Ro in the clip above.