LGBTQ+ History Month: Pete Buttigieg, U.S. Navy Reserve & Transportation Department Secretary

If you have a problem with who I am, your problem…is with my creator.

U.S. Presidential Candidate

b.  January 19, 1982

Pete Buttigieg was the first openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana. In 2019 he became the second openly gay major-party U.S. presidential candidate and the first married gay candidate. At age 37, he was also the youngest person to run for the U.S. presidency. On February 2, 2021, he became the first openly LGBTQ person to serve in the U.S. Cabinet.

An only child, Buttigieg was born and raised in South Bend. His father, who died in January 2019, emigrated from the Mediterranean island of Malta. Both his parents taught at the University of Notre Dame.

Buttigieg graduated valedictorian of his high school. The class voted him “most likely to become president.”  In his senior year, he won the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Essay Contest for his composition on the political integrity of then-Congressman Bernie Sanders.

Buttigieg attended Harvard University, where he was elected student president of the esteemed Harvard Institute of Politics and served as a board member of the Harvard College Democrats. He graduated in 2005, earning a prestigious Rhodes scholarship. Buttigieg received his master’s degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford University in 2007. He speaks eight languages, including Maltese, Norwegian, Arabic and French.

After Oxford, Buttigieg worked for three years at McKinsey & Company, the No. 1 global management consulting firm. During that time, he joined the U.S. Navy Reserve.

In 2010 Buttigieg ran as the Democratic nominee for Indiana state treasurer but was defeated by the Republican incumbent. One year later, he successfully ran for mayor of South Bend, winning a landslide victory with three quarters of the vote. At age 29, he became the second-youngest mayor in the city’s history and the youngest mayor of a U.S. city of 100,000 or more. Known affectionately as “Mayor Pete,” his popular programs have spurred significant economic growth. In 2013 GovFresh named him mayor of the year, alongside Mayor Bloomberg of New York.

In his fourth year in office, Buttigieg was called to active duty by the Navy. A lieutenant, he served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan for six months in 2014. In 2015 South Bend reelected him with an overwhelming 80% of the vote. In June 2015, during discussions on state legislation that would have permitted LGBT discrimination, Buttigieg came out as gay in a personal essay that appeared in the South Bend Tribune.

In April 2019, Buttigieg formally announced his Democratic presidential candidacy. If elected, he would have become the first openly gay president of the United States. In 2021, President Joe Biden nominated him for a Cabinet position. Now serving as Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Buttigieg is the first openly LGBTQ person in history to be confirmed to the Cabinet by the U.S. Senate.

Buttigieg is a practicing Episcopalian. He married Chasten Glezman, a high school teacher, in June 2018. The couple lives in the neighborhood where Buttigieg grew up.

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