Pete Buttigieg Says He Believes America Has Already Had A Gay President And Didn’t Know It

Pete Buttigieg appears at a campaign event.
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Pete Buttigieg has a chance to make history as America’s first openly gay president, but the Democratic Party hopeful thinks he wouldn’t actually be the first gay president.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor said in an interview this weekend that it’s likely America has already had its first gay president without realizing it. While there has not been anyone openly gay, Buttigieg believes that the chances of having a closeted gay president would be almost a certainty.

“I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he said in an interview on Axios on HBO.

“I mean, statistically, it’s almost certain.”

While Pete Buttigieg did not want to wager a guess as to which president might have been gay — saying his “gaydar” doesn’t even work in the present, let alone retroactively — many historians have speculated that lifelong bachelor James Buchanan may have been gay.

In his dark horse campaign to win the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg has often stayed away from using his sexuality as a selling point and tried instead to remain focused on the issues.

Buttigieg said at the official launch of his campaign that focusing too much on his identity would not seem like a winning strategy.

“But I’m not running to be president for any one group. If I thought to myself just in terms of identity lines, it’d be a pretty lonely place, because I’m the only Maltese-American Episcopalian gay veteran that I know,” he told CNBC.

“If we get identity right, then it can actually be a source of solidarity with people whose identity is completely different. I think divisive identity politics is exactly what’s being practiced by the White House today, and it’s using race to divide us within, for example, the middle and working class. We’ve got to turn the page from that.”

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Despite an unusual profile as an openly gay man, the youngest candidate in the race at 37, and a political outsider having only served as the mayor of a mid-sized city, Pete Buttigieg has been able to surge in the polls. After polling at 1 or zero percent in early primary polls, Buttigieg has now risen to among the pack of roughly five candidates at or near the top of most polls.

Pete Buttigieg has also become popular with Democratic donors, both large and small. A recent report from the New York Times found that he was a favorite of Wall Street donors, but has also been able to generate large sums from smaller, individual donations.