I’ve learned that being “present” makes a difference in the way people decide if they can trust you. But it takes practice. Being closeted as a gay man until my mid-twenties, I was never present. I was always afraid my secret would be found out.
When you do that long enough, it becomes your nature.
Pete Buttigieg was asked by Rachel Maddow about his coming out. He included in his answer the following: “There’s this war that breaks out inside a lot of people when they realize they might be something they’re afraid of.” That hit home for me.
When I started living openly, I became more sympathetic. I started considering the feelings of others who had different beliefs. What pain might they be resisting? What do I not understand about them? That taught me how to be compassionate. The war inside myself was over.
There’s an indefinable presence in Pete Buttigieg that is remarkable. Maybe it has something to do with being free of the fear he had when he was hiding his true self. Maybe that’s why he’s not worried about being an openly gay man running for president.
In an interview with Jonathan Allen, Pete shared the story of speaking to a mother of a homicide victim in South Bend. He was reluctant to talk with her, not knowing if he’d be able to provide any comfort. But he ended up learning a lesson.
“What I realized then was that it didn’t matter, frankly, that it was me and not somebody else there. It was that THE MAYOR was there. The Mayor was there, meant that the city was there. And the city was there meant that the city cared about her loss.”
Pete Buttigieg understands the importance of being present. He understands its value and what it says to the people he represents.
That is Pete Buttigieg’s nature.