Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has spoken candidly about his struggles coming to terms with his sexual orientation.
Buttigieg said that accepting he was gay felt like ‘some kind of war’ in an emotional speech given to a group of LGBTI rights supporters.
He went on to say that at one point that if it were an option he would have taken a pill to ‘make [himself] straight’.
The Democrat said that it was as an adult he was ready to embrace his sexual orientation.
Buttigieg has served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012.
While many pundits think it is unlikely that he will win the Democratic nomination for the 2020 elections, Buttigieg has seen a groundswell of support and popularity since announcing his campaign in January.
‘Thank God there was no pill’
Speaking at the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s annual brunch, Buttigieg spoke about how he attempted to suppress his sexuality while he was at high school and college, NBC News reports.
‘If you could have offered me a pill that could make me straight, I would have swallowed it before you could give me a swig of water,’ Buttigieg said.
‘It’s a hard thing to think about now. If you had shown me exactly what it was that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife,’ he added.
‘Thank God there was no pill. Thank God there was no knife.’
The politician, who served as an intelligence officer in the US Navy Reserve, said that it was only after completing a tour of duty in Afghanistan that he was prepared to accept he was gay.
‘Your quarrel is with my creator’
In his speech, Buttigieg also took aim at Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence has been openly opposed to a number of LGBTI rights, such as the legalization of same-sex marriage. The vice president maintains such ideologies are not compatible with his Christian beliefs.
‘That’s the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand,’ said Buttigieg, who is a devout Episcopalian. ‘That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me. Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator.’
Buttigieg announced he was gay in an essay published in the South Bend Tribune in 2015.
A recent survey found that 68 percent of Americans are would be enthusiastic or comfortable with an openly gay presidential candidate. This number is up from 43 percent in 2006.
The Democratic ‘pink wave’
While Buttigieg is currently the only openly gay presidential hopeful, the Democratic party has seen an influx of LGBTI representation in recent years.
A record number of Democratic LGBTI candidates took office in last year’s November midterm elections. A number of pundits dubbed election results as a ‘pink wave’.
Fellow presidential hopefuls, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders, have spoken out about their support for LGBTI rights.
Last week, Sanders caused a stir on Twitter after displaying a trans rights flag outside his office in the Senate.
This stands in stark contrast to the current US government under Republican President Donald Trump.
According to LGBTI rights group GLAAD, the Trump administration has attacked LGBTI rights in the US over 100 times since taking office in January 2017.
The Trump White House has a particularly woeful record on trans rights.
This includes an ongoing legal battle about banning trans individuals from serving in the US military. Trans rights advocates have condemned at the proposed ban, which could come into effect this later month.