At a rally in Denver on Saturday, February 22, Democratic primary candidate “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg welcomed a 9-year-old boy named Zachary to the stage to encourage him to “come out” as gay.
The candidate had received a written question from the boy which read, “Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too? I want to be brave like you.”
Calling Zachary to the stage amidst cheers and chants of “love is love” from the crowd, Buttigieg praised the boy’s “bravery,” saying that he himself took a long time to “come out” even to his best friend, and that he admired Zachary’s willingness to do so in front of thousands of people.
Of course, the topic of the “sexual preferences” of a 9-year-old will strike many observers as an unseemly one for a presidential candidate to be trafficking in, and one might well wonder how much coercion and prodding from the boy’s parents were involved in the spectacle. Most reasonable adults would not take a 9-year-old’s judgment seriously in deciding what the child should have packed in his lunch box for school; let alone that child’s attitude on such serious and mature subjects as sexual tastes.
The sexualization of children is no small matter, and the example of the first gay man in the Oval Office would be a powerful cultural force undercutting the values and morals many parents try to instill in their children from an early age in the home. Apart from considerations of policy, therefore, family advocates ought to be concerned about this kind of campaign stunt from Buttigieg, seeing in it an indication of what might happen on a wider scale if he were elected to the White House.