Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor who has seen South Bend through a rebound, is a little-known contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination

Over a bowl of pulled pork, lentils, giardiniera and mixed greens, with the Eagles’ Peaceful Easy Feeling playing in the background, Pete Buttigieg is asked a question that no elected official running for US president has ever been asked before. What was it like growing up gay?

“I wasn’t even prepared to acknowledge to myself that I was gay at school,” he said, reflecting on his childhood in South Bend, Indiana, a conservative state governed, until recently, by vice-president Mike Pence. “I had never met an out person my age the entire time I went to school; didn’t know that there was such a thing. I had heard of one at another school. So it was just literally out of the question.”

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