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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to 9-year-old Zachary Ro, center, of Lone Tree, as Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold looks on at a campaign rally late Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Aurora. The boy questioned Buttigieg on how to tell people that he is gay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A 9-year-old Lone Tree boy who joined Pete Buttigieg on stage at a campaign rally in Aurora on Saturday night and who asked for advice on telling the world he is gay told The Colorado Sun he was proud to talk about his sexuality in front of thousands of people. 

Zachary Ro’s question came as the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, answered prompts from the audience at the Crowne Plaza hotel near Denver International Airport. 

“Thank you for being so brave,” Zachary asked in a question read by Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold. “Would you help me tell the world I’m gay, too? I want to be brave like you.” 

Buttigieg told the boy that coming out “won’t always be easy, but that’s OK.” Buttigieg said that it took him a long time to figure out how to even tell his closest friends that he is gay, let alone the world and that he was impressed by Zachary’s ability to be so open and honest with himself at such a young age. 

“I don’t think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery,” Buttigieg told Zachary on a stage in front of thousands of people. “You seem pretty strong.”

People in the audience chanted “love means love!” as the boy was whisked onto and off of the stage. 

“It was exciting, and I felt really happy,” Zachary said in an interview just after Buttigieg’s rally ended, flanked by his family. “I was glad I was able to tell everyone in the audience that I’m gay.”

Asked about how it felt to get advice from Buttigieg in front of thousands of people Zachary said he was “kind of nervous, excited, proud.”

Zachary said he didn’t come to the event planning to ask the question. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing written down on a piece of paper as he entered the rally Saturday night. Staffers were collecting them from attendees as they came into the venue.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, holds a rally at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Aurora on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Griswold, who was asking the audience’s questions to Buttigieg, said Zachary’s came up randomly. She was pulling questions gathered in a bowl and didn’t know whose questions she was grabbing.

“I was pulling from the top,” Griswold said in an interview with The Sun after the rally.  

Young Ro, Zachary’s father, said he just wants to be there for his son and provide him with “whatever he needs.” 

The Colorado Sun —

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Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage.

A Colorado College graduate, Jesse worked at The Denver Post from June 2014 until July 2018, when he joined The Sun. He was also an intern at The Gazette in Colorado Springs and The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, his hometown.

Jesse has won awards for long form feature writing, public service reporting, sustained coverage and deadline news reporting.

Email: Twitter: @jesseapaul