As it turns out, part superhero, part Newark, New Jersey mayor, Cory Booker, hasn’t always been the progressive, all-encompassing politician that he is today.
In a 1992 op-ed published in the Stanford newspaper, Booker wrote about his adolescent hostility for the LGBT community and explained the pivotal moment in his life when a gay guidance counselor changed his mind:
Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that the root of my hatred did not lie with gays but with myself. It was my problem. A problem I dealt with by ceasing to tolerate gays and instead seeking to embrace them.
In these efforts I have found another community with which I feel akin and from which I draw strength. The gay people with whom I am close are some of the strongest, most passionate and caring people I know and their demands for justice are no less imperative than those of any other community.
Before his awakening, Booker said that he just tolerated homosexual people, and was the typical cliche that holds “disgust and latent hostility” even though he had a “gay friend”:
“I stopped telling my gay jokes. Fags, flamers and dykes became homosexuals and people of differing sexual orientation and, of course, I had my gay friend.” But: “I was disgusted by gays. The thought of two men kissing each other was about as appealing as a frontal lobotomy.”
A young Booker wrote that even with his new found sense of justice and inclusion, at times he felt anger when people questioned his sexual orientation or remained silent in the face of homophobic slurs hurled by others. But he accepted the fact that he was a work in progress.
“I was writing about my teenage struggle for integrity,”Booker tweeted today, in response to a compliment on the old article. “Thanks.”
Today, Booker is on the forefront of the fight for marriage equality and voiced his anger and annoyance that the issue of marriage equality was going to be put on a ballot for a popular vote in New Jersey.
See Booker speak about the NJ Marriage Equality Referendum here:
Running down the list of groups of people in this country who have been treated as second-class citizens: Latinos, African-Americans and women, and referencing miscegenation laws that barred Black and White citizens from marrying, he said that marriage was a right, not something that needed to be voted on and it was time that the United States treated everyone like first-class citizens and moved on to other issues.