(Bloomberg) -- Pete Buttigieg welcomed a nine-year-old boy on stage at a rally in Denver, Colorado, on Saturday night after the young boy asked the Democratic presidential candidate for help coming out as gay.
"Would you help me tell the world I'm gay too," the boy wrote in a pre-submitted question that was read to Buttigieg. "I want to be brave like you."
Buttigieg, who is the first major openly gay presidential candidate, was momentarily speechless. The crowd, numbering in the thousands, started to cheer "love is love," as the young boy, Zachary, was brought onto the stage.
"Well, I don't think you need a lot of advice from me," Buttigieg told Zachary. "You seem pretty strong to me. It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay."
Buttigieg, who was then joined on stage by his husband, Chasten, didn't come out as gay until his 30s, during his first term as mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
"It won't always be easy, but that's OK because you know who you are," Buttigieg told Zachary. "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."
Buttigieg also lauded Zachary's courage, telling him others might decide "they can be a little braver because you have been brave."
He added: "And the last thing I want you to know is even if I can't promise it'll always be easy, I can promise you that I'm going to be rooting for you."
The rally was Buttigieg's first stop after Nevada's caucuses on Saturday. With 43% of precincts reporting in that contest, he was in third place, at 14.5%, behind Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
(Disclaimer: Michael Bloomberg is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. He is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)
To contact the reporter on this story: Tyler Pager in Denver, Colorado at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at email@example.com, Max Berley, Christopher Anstey
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