MSNBC host Rachel Maddow and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegWhite House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden meets with bipartisan lawmakers for infrastructure negotiations Senate Republicans label Biden infrastructure plan a 'slush fund' MORE (D), who are both openly gay, compared their stories of coming out during an interview Monday on MSNBC's "Maddow."

Maddow said she came out while she was in college and that she was the first openly gay American to be a Rhodes scholar. 


"I had come out in college. I had applied for the Rhodes scholar as an openly gay person. It definitely came up in the selection process and then I got there and I learned that I was the first American that had ever been out," Maddow said.

The MSNBC host then noted that Buttigieg, who was also a Rhodes scholar, didn't come out until he was 33 and serving as mayor of South Bend.

Maddow said "it would have killed me to be closeted for that long" and asked Buttigieg if it was "hurtful" for him to have to not reveal that he was gay.

Buttigieg responded that it was "really hard" and revealed that, prior to coming out publicly, he came out to a "couple of people in my life" before taking office.

"There’s this war that breaks out inside a lot of people when they realize that they might be something they’re afraid of. It took me a very long time to resolve that. I did make sure, as a kind of final way of coming out to myself, to come out to at least a couple of people in my life before I took office because I knew that I didn’t want to have that psychological pressure of at least not being out to somebody," he said.

Buttigieg added that it was his deployment to Afghanistan that "put me over the top."

“I realized that you only get to be one person," he said. "You don’t know how long you have on this earth. And by the time I came back, I realized, ‘I gotta do something.’”

The conversation between Maddow and Buttigieg elicited praise on social media. 

Country singer Chely Wright tweeted that she was "in tears" as she watched it. NBC host Willie Geist called the conversation "extraordinary and moving" in a tweet. Brian Fallon, the press secretary for former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Republican legislators target private sector election grants How Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 MORE's 2016 presidential campaign, called it "profound."