The mayor of South Bend drew national attention Tuesday, June 17, after he came out as gay in a newspaper editorial.
Pete Buttigieg, 33, wrote that while he tends to be private like most Midwesterners, he believes his coming out is an important part of social change and a growing acceptance of LGBT people in the United States. He also timed his coming out ahead of an expected Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage and his 2015 re-election campaign.
He is the first mayor in Indiana to openly come out as gay, according to Howey Politics.
The Democratic mayor was one of the top trending topics on Facebook for most of the day Tuesday and appeared in the trending list again on Wednesday morning. Several media outlets published stories on Buttigieg’s coming out, including Fox News, Politico, MSNBC, The Advocate, BuzzFeed and TIME magazine.
He was also the focus of a longer feature from The Washington Post, which went over Buttigieg’s history and included reaction from former South Bend resident LZ Granderson, a writer for ESPN and an LGBT activist.
Granderson told WashPo that Buttigieg is well-liked among residents, perhaps especially because he served in Afghanistan, and that his coming out could challenge some South Bend residents.
“Now they’re dealing with the fact this person they may have admired for doing that is gay, and what does that mean for your worldview?” Granderson said.
Buttigieg was elected in 2012. When he took office at 29, he became the nation’s youngest mayor of a city with more than 100,000 residents. He was the valedictorian at St. Joseph High School in South Bend in 2000, graduated from Harvard College in 2004 and was a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford.
He is also a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves and served in Afghanistan for seven months in 2014.
Buttigieg is being challenged in the 2015 mayoral election by Republican Kelly Jones.