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Pete Buttigieg Shares His Coming-Out Dilemma on Democratic Debate Stage

It's another historic first under the gay politician's belt.

Openly gay White House hopeful Pete Buttigieg just added another historic first to his already impressive resume.

During last night's three-hour Democratic primary debate on ABC News, the out mayor of South Bend, Indiana, got candid about coming out later in life while onstage. It marked the first time a presidential candidate for a major political party openly discussed their sexual orientation in a primary debate, according to The Huffington Post.

Sandwiched between Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders on the crowded stage, Buttigieg recalled serving in the U.S. military during the "don't ask, don't tell" era and feeling sworn to secrecy about an integral part of his identity:

... At a certain point, when it came to professional setbacks, I had to wonder whether just acknowledging who I was was going to be the ultimate, career-ending professional setback. I came back from deployment and realized that you only get to live one life, and I was not interested in not getting to know what it's like to be in love any longer. So I just came out.

"I had no idea what kind of professional setback it would be," he continued, "because it inconveniently, it was an election year in my socially conservative community."

But what happened surprised Buttigieg, who's now open about his sexual orientation—and proudly married to Chasten Buttigieg, an Indiana school teacher. Voters elected Buttigieg anyway, and he won with an overwhelming majority (some 80% of voters) choosing to trust in him and his policies.

"Trust can be reciprocated," Buttigieg added. "And part of how you can win—and deserve to win—is knowing what's worth more to you than winning. And I think that's what we need in the presidency right now. We need to know what we're all about. This election is not about any of the candidates up here. It's not about the president right now. ... It's about the people who trust us with their lives."

Save for his poignant anecdote about coming out, Buttigieg didn't mention his queerness or LGBTQ issues again during the debate. But none of his opponents did, either.

Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

ABC NEWS - 9/12/19 - Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, "World News Tonight" Anchor and Managing Editor David Muir, ABC News Correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos moderate the Democratic debate from Texas Southern University's Health & PE Center in Houston, TX on Thursday, September 12 on ABC and Univision (8-11 ET). (Heidi Gutman/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images) PETE BUTTIGIEG, BERNIE SANDERS, JOE BIDEN

Buttigieg is slated to join a handful of other presidential hopefuls—including Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Julian Castro, and Marianne Williamson—at next week's LGBTQ Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The forum will be hosted by The Advocate, One Iowa, and The Gazette.

"LGBTQ folks have been largely absent on the debate stage—even with Mayor Pete running," Zach Stafford, editor-in-chief of The Advocate, told NewNowNext earlier last month. "And we are so excited that this event will help fix that."

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