Pete Buttigieg offered some advice to a 9-year-old boy who asked the presidential hopeful for help coming out as gay during a Colorado campaign rally.
The event was held Saturday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Aurora near Denver International Airport, The Colorado Sun reports.
"Thank you for being so brave," Zachary Ro wrote in a pre-submitted question read to Buttigieg by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. "Would you help me tell the world I'm gay, too? I want to be brave like you."
"Well, I don't think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery," Buttigieg told Ro in front of the cheering attendees. "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 to go out there and tell the world," the Democratic candidate continued. "To see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of... thousands of people you've never met, that's really something."
"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."
"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," Buttigieg added. "I never could’ve seen that coming. And you’ll never know whose life you may 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 if I can't promise it'll always be easy, I can promise you that I'm going to be rooting for you."
Ro also presented Buttigieg with a colorful friendship bracelet, which the candidate put on. People in the crowd reportedly chanted “Love means love!”
“It was exciting, and I felt really happy,” Ro said after the rally, joined by his supportive family. “I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I’m gay.”
Ro said he didn’t attend the rally planning to ask the question, but he submitted it to event organizers on a piece of paper at the last minute. Griswold, who pulled the questions from a bowl, said Ro's question was selected at random.
"I just feel inspired by Pete being openly gay and running for president at the same time, and some day I want to be like him," Ro told KDVR reporter Joe St. George.
While mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg came out publicly as gay in 2015 with an open letter in the South Bend Tribune, shortly before the Supreme Court’s ruling on federal marriage equality.
“We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I’m not used to viewing this as anyone else’s business,” he wrote in the op-ed. “But it’s clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good.”