"I don't think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong to me," the presidential hopeful told the young boy.
Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg's campaign witnessed an incredibly powerful moment in Denver on Saturday when a 9-year-old supporter posed a life-changing question to the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor. Zachary Ro, one of the many who'd submitted written questions for Buttigieg ahead of his appearance, sought the 38-year-old's help to come out as gay to the world. "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'd written in one of the pieces of paper that were drawn from the fishbowl of queries.
According to CNN, Zachary—who attended the rally with his parents—was then ushered on the stage by campaign staffers to meet the Democratic presidential candidate, where he presented Buttigieg with a bracelet. "I don't think you need a lot of advice for me on bravery. You seem pretty strong to me," Buttigieg told his young supporter. "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 and to see you willing to come to terms with who you are in a room full of 1,000 people, thousands of people you've never met that's, that's really something."
The Democratic candidate, who is openly gay and is on the campaign trail with his husband Chasten, also shared a couple of pieces of advice with the 9-year-old. "The first thing is that 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," he said.
Buttigieg continued to tell Zachary to be mindful of "who's taking their lead from you, who's watching you and deciding that they can be a little braver because you have been brave." Citing his own coming out journey as an example, he added, "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. I never could have seen that coming, and you'll never know whose life you might be affecting right now, just by standing here. There's a lot of power in that."
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
According to the Colorado Sun, Zachary was hailed with chants of "love is love!" from the audience as he was whisked onto and off of the stage. "It was exciting, and I felt really happy. I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I’m gay," he revealed in an interview right after the rally ended. When asked how it felt to receive advice from Buttigieg in front of thousands of supporters, the young boy said he was "kind of nervous, excited, proud."
I caught up with 9 year old Zachary after he was brought on stage and asked @PeteButtigieg his question. His dad told me off camera he was proud of his son. pic.twitter.com/CsO60aQiUh— Joe St. George (@JoeStGeorge) February 23, 2020
He revealed that he hadn't planned the question ahead of time and that it was a spur-of-the-moment decision when he saw staffers collecting queries from attendees while entering the rally venue. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold, who picked Zachary's question from the fishbowl, clarified that it had been completely random. "I was pulling from the top," she said, adding that she didn't know whose questions she was grabbing. Zachary's father, Young Ro, told reporters off-camera that he was proud of his son and that he just wants to be there for his son and provide him with "whatever he needs."