9-Year-Old Asks Pete Buttigieg For Help Telling 'The World I'm Gay, Too'

Pete Buttigieg offered advice during a campaign rally to a 9-year-old boy who asked him for help coming out as gay.

Zachary Ro joined Buttigieg, who has become the first openly gay candidate to run for president, on stage after his question was read out at the rally in Denver on Saturday night.

"Thank you for being so brave. Would you help me tell the world I'm gay too? I want to be brave like you," he wrote in a pre-submitted question that was read to Buttigieg by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, The Colorado Sun reported.

Ro was whisked onto stage as the crowd chanted "love means love," according to the newspaper. "Well, I don't think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery," Buttigieg told Ro. "You seem pretty strong."

Powerful moment (better audio): 9 year old Zachary Ro of Lone Tree asks @PeteButtigieg how he can be brave and tell people he is gay too pic.twitter.com/1aUbYM8cDM

— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) February 23, 2020

He added, "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 and tell the world." Buttigieg didn't come out publicly as gay until 2015 at the age of 33 in an op-ed for The South Bend Tribune during his first term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.

Buttigieg then commended Ro on having the courage to speak about his sexuality in front of "thousands of people you've never met."

"To see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of a thousand people, thousands of people you've never met, that's really something," he said.

He offered the boy some advice, saying, "It won't always be easy, but that's OK 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."

He also told Ro that his bravery might inspire others and help them "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 different I get to make," Buttigieg noted.

He added, "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 told The Colorado Sun after the rally that he felt "nervous, excited, and proud" after speaking to Buttigieg in front of the massive crowd.

"It was exciting, and I felt really happy," he told the newspaper. "I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I'm gay." He said he hadn't planned to ask the question, but wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it to officials who collected questions from attendees.

The rally at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Denver International Airport was Buttigieg's first stop after the Nevada caucuses on Saturday. He came in third with 14 percent of the vote, behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, the Associated Press reported.

Pete Zachary
Pete Buttigieg greets Zachary Ro, who asked Buttigieg to help him tell others he is gay, while the candidate was speaking at a town hall campaign event at the Denver Airport Convention Center February 22, 2020 in Denver, Colorado. Win McNamee/Getty Images