The Agenda

Indiana mayor comes out as gay

Underscoring the importance of visibility, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out as gay in an essay published Tuesday by the South Bend Tribune. Buttigieg wrote that it took him “years of struggle and growth” before he could acknowledge “the simple fact that I am gay.”
The first-term Democratic mayor was elected at the age of 30, which made him the youngest U.S. mayor of a city with a population of over 100,000. He is now also the only openly LGBTQ mayor in Indiana, and is seeking reelection this year.
Buttigieg is a Navy veteran who served active military duty in Afghanistan. He returned to South Bend on Saturday after an annual two-week obligation to the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Last year, the Washington Post called the 33-year-old, “the most interesting mayor you’ve never heard of,” in a profile that noted he was also named one of GovFresh’s two “mayors of the year” in 2013 due to his work as a “public servant innovator.”
“Being more open about it could do some good,” Buttigieg wrote about his decision to come out. “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 South Bend native’s essay highlights the importance of having openly LGBTQ public officials.
“Out public officials are essential to ensure that the concerns of LGBTQ people are represented at all levels of government,” said Aisha Moodie-Mills, president and CEO of the Victory Fund and Institute, “We applaud Pete Buttigieg for his decision to come out, and we will continue to work hard to elect and support LGBTQ leaders like Buttigieg in all corners of America.”