On Tuesday, an essay written by the a local leader in an Indiana town about one of the monumental issues of our time made headlines for a very personal admission. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out as gay in an essay published in the South End Tribune, saying that it is important to be open about it.
The piece began with the Supreme Court's expected decision on same-sex marriage this month and highlighting the increase in support for gay people in America. Then, Buttigieg recounted his own experiences with coming out to his friends and family.
"I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay," the 33-year-old mayor wrote. "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."
He added that publicizing such a private part of his life — particularly in the conservative Midwest — "does not come easy," but noted that at a moment in time when the momentum toward support for gay rights is at a tipping point, "it could do some good." He wrote:
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.
Considering the controversy surrounding Indiana's recent religious freedom bill, Buttigieg received a flurry of support following his announcement. One movie theater downtown even backed Buttigieg with a sign.
[Cover image via Pete Buttigieg/Facebook]