South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg came out gay Tuesday in an op-ed published in the South Bend Tribune.

“I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay,” the 33-year-old Buttigieg wrote. “It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it's just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.”

“Putting something this personal on the pages of a newspaper does not come easy. We Midwesterners are instinctively private to begin with, and I'm not used to viewing this as anyone else's business.”

“But it's clear to me that at a moment like this, being more open about it could do some good. For a local student struggling with her sexuality, it might be helpful for an openly gay mayor to send the message that her community will always have a place for her. And for a conservative resident from a different generation, whose unease with social change is partly rooted in the impression that he doesn't know anyone gay, perhaps a familiar face can be a reminder that we're all in this together as a community,” he added.

Buttigieg, a Democrat now in his second term as mayor, became the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with at least 100,000 residents when he first took office in 2011.