WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES (APRIL 7, 2019) (NBC) – Speaking at an event for the pro-LGBTQ Political Action Comittee Victory Fund in Washington, D.C., U.S. presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg recounted his own struggle to accept himself as a gay man. Buttigieg said that if he could have taken a pill to make himself straight, he would have “swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water,” in a speech on Sunday (April 7).
“I can tell you that if me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far far above my pay grade,” Buttigieg, a Democrat mayor from South Bend, Indiana said at the event.
Buttigieg, 37, said that he spent his teens and early twenties anguished over his sexual orientation, worried it was in conflict with the religious community he grew up in.
“This idea that there is something wrong with you is a message that puts you at war not only with yourself, but with your maker,” he said.
Buttigieg credits his deployment to Afghanistan as a Navy reservist and the prospect he could be killed with forcing him to finally come to terms with being gay.
“I turned 33. I was a grown man. Well traveled, well-educated, a sitting mayor and a war veteran with absolutely no idea what it was like to be in love,” Buttigieg said.
He described meeting his husband Chasten, a school teacher through an internet dating app.
“I looked through a little screen on my phone and I saw the smile – this guy and I clicked the button on the right because I had to meet him.”
Buttigieg and Chasten were married in the Episcopal church in 2018.
The Indiana mayor recently saw a bump in his standing in public opinion polls, after announcing last week he raised $7 million in the first quarter.
Buttigieg, who is considered a long-shot for the Democratic nomination, is the most prominent openly gay politician to seek the U.S.’s highest office.
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