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Cory Booker's 1992 Op-Ed Proves The Power Of Gay Friendship


Time and again polls show that the single biggest factor in someone changing their minds about marriage equality or general LGBT rights is meeting an LGBT person. It's that simple. They meet a gay person, see that we don't have horns, and move past their archaic attitudes. Newark Mayor and likely U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker is one of those people.

On April 8, 1992, he wrote an opinion piece for his university newspaper, The Stanford Daily, about how meeting a gay person changed his mind on the matter. That paper republished the piece today. Here is an excerpt:

...While I was highly adroit at maintaining an air of acceptance [of gays], I couldn't betray my feelings. I was disgusted by gays. The thought of two men kissing each other was about as appealing as a frontal lobotomy.

Allow me to be more direct, escaping the euphemisms of my past – I hated gays. The disgust and latent hostility I felt toward gays were subcategories of hatred, plain and simple.

While hate is a four-letter word I never would have admitted to, the sentiment clandestinely pervaded my every interaction with homosexuals. I sheepishly shook hands with gays or completely shied away from physical contact. I still remember how my brow would often unconsciously furrow when I was with gays as thoughts would flash in my mind, "What sinners I am amongst" or "How unnatural these people are."

It takes too much energy to hate. Daniel Bao showed me that. He was our gay counselor at The Bridge when I was a freshman. A beautiful man whose eloquent and poignant truths began to move me past tolerance.

I still remember our first real conversation about homosexuality. I had no intention of listening to him; I only sought to argue and debate. Daniel, however, quickly disarmed me with his personal testimony.

Booker is now one of the most outspoken gay allies in public office.

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  1. as one who's converted many a hater into the realm of acceptance i can most definitely understand where booker must have been back in 92 on this issue just like the many people i have met along my journey. helping those come to terms with either their own self as well as those who thought all gays were going to hell blahblahblah. many of my friends didn't like me when they first met me because of my sexuality but those same people would never allow somebody to disrespect me. i was the cool kind of i would most definitely be down for a booker 2016 presidency if changing the rules made due to fdr's 3 terms can be reversed at all to re-elect obama for a 3rd term. anybody with a brain can see that we have the best president since abraham lincoln. ^_^

    Posted by: alexander | Jan 10, 2013 11:37:24 AM

  2. For Cory, I think this was a significant amount of self-loathing. Is Cory not gay????

    Posted by: BRAINS | Jan 10, 2013 11:39:42 AM

  3. @brains

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 10, 2013 11:44:28 AM

  4. Alexander, no disrespect, but what would constitute the "uncool" kind of gay?

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 10, 2013 11:50:58 AM

  5. He's an amazingly eloquent ally. I remember seeing him once on Rachel Maddow's show, delivering an impassioned case for marriage equality, and I nearly cried. I hope one day I have the chance to cast a vote for Cory, for something.

    That said, I think he's wise to go for senate rather than governor.

    Posted by: Lars | Jan 10, 2013 11:54:53 AM

  6. What a wonderful column!

    Posted by: john patrick | Jan 10, 2013 12:13:43 PM

  7. Here's a link to the entire editorial. Great read.

    Posted by: justin | Jan 10, 2013 12:24:05 PM

  8. Oh come on, Sam. You know exactly what he means. Many people on the fence about gay rights do so because they don't understand or approve of effeminacy or blatant promiscuity. They prefer people who act more like themselves because people always prefer people they understand and can relate to.

    I've never had a negative response to anyone to whom I've come out, and that goes back nearly 30 years. But then, I also have cool friends. And lately I've only gone to one straight bar, mainly because I got drugged twice at my former favorite gay bar but also because they allow dogs and everyone loves mine.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 10, 2013 12:34:18 PM

  9. @Paul thanks for the lesson. Good luck at the bars.

    Posted by: Sam | Jan 10, 2013 12:45:08 PM

  10. @Sam,

    You know - the ones who watch Star Trek and play D&D.

    Oh [moment of blinding self-revelation]....

    Posted by: GDad | Jan 10, 2013 12:50:02 PM

  11. Help Out - Come Out.

    it's 2013. We're (most of us...) in North America. We're adults. It's time to stop hiding.

    never pass up an opportunity to give a face and name and personal connection to who and what Gay Is.

    you literally could change and save the lives of LGBT people you'll never meet by simply having the integrity to Come Out to people. Everyone.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 10, 2013 12:52:00 PM

  12. This was a great column then--and it still is now. I love Cory Booker!

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Jan 10, 2013 12:53:58 PM

  13. "mainly because I got drugged twice at my former favorite gay bar but also because they allow dogs and everyone loves mine."

    Just don't let them drug your dog, Paul R. Some dogs can be sleezy too.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Jan 10, 2013 12:56:18 PM

  14. Sam, an uncool kind of gay: Ernst Rohm

    Posted by: Zac | Jan 10, 2013 1:02:23 PM

  15. I love Cory Booker, but I'm sorry, he's not gay, just like Tyler Perry isn't gay.

    Posted by: Brian | Jan 10, 2013 1:08:17 PM

  16. Paul R

    Nobody on here really cares how butch you think you are. At the end of the day, people who don't like gays will still not like you. You're not any better than the rest of us.

    Posted by: MateoM | Jan 10, 2013 1:28:19 PM

  17. @Brain - Lol'd. But how did we delve into whether CB was gay?

    Posted by: Belthazar | Jan 10, 2013 1:50:27 PM

  18. I greatly admire Corey Booker--one of the few politicians who actually walks his talk and has the courage of conviction to do what is right instead of just pandering to his constituency.

    Don't speak to me about your religion;
    first show it to me in how you treat other people.

    Don't tell me how much you love your God;
    show me in how much you love all God's children.

    Don't preach to me your passion for your faith;
    teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.

    In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give. --Corey Booker

    I also highly recommend the doc "Street Fight"

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 10, 2013 1:53:54 PM

  19. What I always find fascinating is that straight people always assume that their sex isn't disgusting to gay people. Not ALL gay people, but I'll bet, if people were honest, there would be a lot of nose-wrinkling among gay men and women when you ask them to picture a man and a woman "doing it." I don't dislike women and I have, in fact, engaged in sex with one or two; and the thought still makes me a little queezy

    Posted by: Bo | Jan 10, 2013 1:56:36 PM

  20. you know, Bo, my mum and i had a little chat about that a few years ago - the obsession with "picturing male-male anal sex when topics of GAY come up"

    filmed it. ;-)

    it's true. why is anybody picturing ANYONE ELSE having sex?? ughh

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 10, 2013 2:00:32 PM

  21. @Mateom: when did I claim to be butch? I have no problem with fem or promiscuous guys and never claimed to be better than you. I was trying to explain why other (usually straight) people are jerks. Projecting much? I think that most people can tell I'm gay, since I color my hair, paint my nails black sometimes, and often wear makeup and odd clothes. So if that's butch, go with it.

    @Derrick: thanks for the advice! My dog seems to like people over dogs, so I think I'm safe. She scares other dogs because she's huge.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 10, 2013 2:07:06 PM

  22. Little C*unt [AKA Lil' Kiwi],

    STOP TROLLING,son. You only do this sh*t online because if you did it in person, any self respecting homo or str8 would break your nose. You are the epitome of a punk. No, not a punk rocker, a punk.


    These politicians do start early in life. Mayor Booker is no exception. Just like Obama was told he had to attend an all-black church and pretend he was God fearing and black enough if he wanted to gain political power in Chicago and Il. But I'll take him at his word.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 10, 2013 2:19:08 PM

  23. And Ratbastard comes in with a double dose of threatened violence and racism.

    Posted by: Polyboy | Jan 10, 2013 2:37:38 PM

  24. Cory Booker is awesome. He's given some of the best reasoned, most impassioned defenses of gay rights I've ever seen from a politician. In fact I wish Obama "got it" the way Booker does, that the soaring rhetoric O is so well known for included us other than as a dependent phrase, part of a list, or oblique references that have to be sniffed out. ("See, he said 'no matter who you love!' He's talking about gays there, even if he didn't actually say the word. He's winking at us!")

    It's worth noting that Booker is apparently a personal friend of Rachel Maddow's. The were Rhode's scholars together in the UK.

    And Booker wrote this in 1992. Most recently regarding sermons the "Reverend" Giglio (I certainly don't revere him) gave in the mid/late 1990s, whenever some hateful rant by a Hagel or a Giglio comes to light from a decade or so ago, a common response is "Yeah but that was the 1990s! Everybody hated gays then!" No, actually, they didn't. It's good that some people have 'evolved' since then, that their thinking has changed, but not everyone was an unreconstructed anti-gay bigot in the 1990s or the 1980s for that matter. Then as now there were gay allies, people who had taken the time to confront their biases, questioned and rejected the toxic messages from their upbringing. Frankly I think I does those early allies a disservice to claim that it's understandable, even expected that others hated gays 10, 20, or even 30 years ago. Why do we make excuses for homophobia when there have LONG been other options?

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 10, 2013 2:47:40 PM

  25. Why do I get the feeling that PAUL R is the new RICK?

    Posted by: jamal49 | Jan 10, 2013 3:26:48 PM

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