The youngest mayor in the history of South Bend, Indiana, has written a newspaper column in which he comes out publicly as a gay man.
‘Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business,’ Pete Buttigieg wrote in as essay published in The South Bend Tribune.
Buttigieg, 33, wrote that he hopes to do some good by being more open.
‘For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn’t know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we’re all in this together as a community.’
The graduate of both Harvard and Oxford universities is a reserve in the US Navy wrote that his being gay has no bearing on his performance in business, in the military, or in his current role as mayor.
‘It makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision. It doesn’t change how residents can best judge my effectiveness in serving our city: by the progress of our neighborhoods, our economy, and our city services.’
Buttigieg leads a city that is best known for being home to the Catholic Notre Dame University and a state whose governor signed an infamous anti-LGBTI religious freedom law that caused severe backlash and boycott threats.
The mayor’s Facebook page quickly began to fill with congratulations.
‘Congratulations!’ wrote Patrick Henry. ‘Now, with nothing to hide, you’re a free man. As a 73 year old married Irish Catholic male, I hope that I have the opportunity to vote for you if ever you run for a state office. May God bless you and your family.’
Wrote Anthony Rush: ‘Thanks for your honesty and bravery. I am proud to be a part of a city led by such a man. Pave the way!’