SOUTH BEND, Ind. — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has come out as gay in a newly published essay.

The first-term Democratic mayor writes in an essay published Tuesday in the South Bend Tribune that he was well into adulthood "before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay."

The 33-year-old says it took him "years of struggle and growth" to recognize his sexuality was "just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am."

Buttigieg is seeking re-election this year. He says being gay has no bearing on his service as a Navy reservist or performance as mayor. He says his sexuality "makes me no better or worse at handling a spreadsheet, a rifle, a committee meeting, or a hiring decision."