Mayor Pete Buttigieg acknowledged that he would face challenges as an openly gay presidential candidate if he ultimately faced President Donald Trump in the general election.
“I’m from Indiana, I’m gay as a — I don’t know, think of something really gay — that’s how gay I am,” he said in an interview with TMZ’s Harvey Levin.
Levin warned Buttigieg that Trump campaign would most certainly turn homophobic.
“I’m used to bullying,” Buttigieg replied. “I think you confront it, initially, and move on.”
He said that as a presidential candidate he would focus on calling out Trump’s behavior but remain intent on changing the subject to his own agenda.
Buttigieg quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. saying that “darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.”
Levin, who is also gay, asked Buttigieg if he was worried that his homosexuality would be a “dealbreaker” for many Americans.
“You know, there are some people that I’m never going to get, and that just is what it is, that’s how it always is in some way shape or form in politics,” he replied.
Buttigieg said that he was encouraged after Indiana citizens rose up to condemn the religious freedom law signed by then-governor Mike Pence.
“I don’t care how conservative you are, how religious you are, if you realize that someone is coming to harm because of something you believe, something you used to believe was right, it’s going to open up your heart at least a little bit to change,” he said.
He said that it was important to “call” Americans to the “right side of history” and encourage them towards more progressive policies, rather than be accusatory or demanding about what they should think or say.
Buttigieg said that Americans became more tolerant of gay lifestyles as they grew to know them personally.
He said that he considered himself pretty physically fit, but admitted that he was tempted a lot by unhealthy campaign food on the trail. He acknowledged that his Instagram was full of unhealthy food.
“The things that you can deep fry…” he said, pointing to food found at local fairs.
Buttigieg told TMZ he was not worried by his husband Chasten’s prolific use of social media despite his presidential run. He admitted that sometimes they drafted angry tweets together to get it off their chests, but would never send them.
“He’s pretty good at running stuff by me, and I’ll run stuff by him for a gut check too,” he said.