We generally don’t think of Indiana as a hotbed of homosexuality—what with their religious freedom laws and bigoted pizza parlors.
But Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, may change that perception: Buttigieg, 33, came out as gay today in an op-ed in the South Bend Tribune.
I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.
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. But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good.
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.
It looks like Buttigieg is single, though he writes, “I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family.” He says when his children are older, he hopes “they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy.”
Buttigieg was born in South Bend, Indiana’s fourth biggest city, and was elected mayor in 2011. He was reelected last month, when he earned an overwhelming 78% of the vote. Prior to that, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard with a thesis on the influence of Puritanism on U.S. foreign policy.
He was also a Rhodes scholar, a strategist on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, and a lieutenant in the US Navy Reserves in Afghanistan.
We’re gonna call it now: America’s first openly gay president in 2025.