Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks at a town hall meeting at the Iowa Wesleyan University Howe Student Activity Center, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Zachary Ro, a 9-year-old Colorado boy, scribbled down a question and handed it to a Buttigieg campaign aide at a Saturday campaign stop.
Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold randomly, or maybe not so randomly, selected Ro’s question from a large glass bowl and read it to the group. “Thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too? I want to be brave like you.”
Zachary, greeted with wild applause, was brought onto the stage and the former mayor from South Bend, Indiana gave a very sweet, compassionate response to a question he was likely not expecting. Here’s what he said:
I don’t think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery, you seem pretty strong, It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay, let alone go out there and tell the world. And to see you willing to come to terms with you, who you are, in a room full of thousands of people you never met, that’s really something.
So, let me tell you a couple things that might be useful. The first thing is that it won’t always be easy, but that’s okay because you know who you are. And that’s really important because 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. That’s the first thing I want you to know.
The second thing I want you to know is that you will never know who’s taking their lead from you, who’s watching you and deciding that they can be a little braver because you have been brave.
When I was trying to figure out who I was, I was afraid that who I was might mean that I could never make a difference. And what wound up happening instead, is that it’s a huge part of the difference I get to make. I never could have seen that coming. And you’ll never know whose life you might be affecting – right now – just by standing here right now. There’s a lot of power in that.
And the last thing I want you to know is, even though I can’t promise it will always be easy, I can promise you that I’m going to be rooting for you.
My political views are the polar opposite of Buttigieg’s and I’ve never been a fan, but I have to say that he handled this extremely well.
Reporter Joe St. George, who was covering the story for The Colorado Sun, wrote that following Mayor Pete’s answer, the audience began chanting “love is love.”
St. George caught up to the boy and his parents after the event had ended and asked him for a comment. Zachary told him, “It was exciting, and I felt really happy. I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I’m gay.”
Zachary told St. George he had not planned to ask the question ahead of time. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing.
His father, Young Ro, “just wants to be there for his son and provide him with whatever he needs.”
Watch the video.
— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) February 23, 2020