Before several thousand people at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center, a 9-year-old boy proclaimed he wanted to be “brave” like Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.
“Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too?” Zachary Ro wrote, submitting a question to the Democrat during a rally on Saturday, taped by CNN. “I want to be brave like you.”
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Buttigieg, 38, brought Zachary up on stage and said he didn’t think the boy needed much help, given that he had just come out before several thousand people – not counting those watching on TV.
“I don’t think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong to me,” said former South Bend Mayor Buttigieg, the nation’s first openly gay presidential candidate, to his would-be protegee. “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.”
Now, of course, Buttigieg is happily, and publicly, married to a man.
He did warn Zachary that the admission could make life difficult but that the 9-year-old was ahead of the game by virtue of having a strong core born of self-knowledge.
“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,” Buttigieg said. He also advised the youngster to be aware of the effect of his words and actions on other people – those who may be “watching you and deciding that they can be a little braver because you have been brave.”
Afterward, a reporter from KDVR-TV caught up with Zachary and asked him who made him step up.
“I just feel inspired by Pete being openly gay and running for President at the same time,” Zachary said. “And someday I want to be like him.”
Buttigieg came in third in the Nevada primary last week, behind Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden.
But he has made history and set a bar for future candidates – perhaps this one.
“I feel like he gave me some really good advice,” Zachary told KDVR.
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