Cory Booker, N.J. Senate candidate, dodges the gay question again
“So what does it matter if I am?” said Cory Booker, when the subject of whether he’s gay came up with a Washington Post writer.
Not that he was admitting anything.
The Stanford-, Oxford- and Yale-educated Newark mayor is the front-runner in the New Jersey U.S. Senate race, even though he apparently baffles people who, while marveling at his energy and articulation, wonder where he truly fits on the political – and sexual – spectrums.
In “A perfect Senator of ‘This Town’?” the Post’s Jason Horowitz writes:
Is it important to know a candidate's sexual orientation?
|Total votes = 923|
“It is something of a mystery what kind of a senator Booker will try to be. Conservatives fear he will be a liberal lion. Liberals fear a Trojan horse for Wall Street and Silicon Valley interests. His detractors see him as an insatiable political animal who, in pursuit of his own national prospects, is willing to compromise on Democratic ideals and continue boosting his mutually beneficial relationship with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is a potential Republican presidential nominee.”
Booker will face Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election on Oct. 16, and, as of last week, Booker was enjoying a 16-point lead among likely voters, according to a Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll.
He was also in Philadelphial last week, to take part in a candidates comedy night, in which Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams got in his share of digs at Booker.
The matter of Booker’s love life didn’t come up until the end of the long Post profile, and certainly didn’t settle the matter.
Early on as mayor, distraught over the murder rate, Booker reportedly turned to pastor friend, whose advice included, “You need to get married.”
“After that, Booker says, he started dating more — although, he clarifies, not with Arianna Huffington, with whom he was rumored to have been involved. But he has kept that part of his life private because he says he needs some sacred spaces,” Horowitz writes.
“Because how unfair is it to a young lady to put them in the spotlight if they haven’t signed up for that yet?” Booker asks.
Then came the fuller quote about the question:
“People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia,” he said. “I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’ ”
Previous articles addressing the question have pointed to a Stanford editorial Booker wrote in 1992 , discussing his own homophobia:
“I was well trained in my tolerance. 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. Yet, while I was highly adroit at maintaining an air of acceptance, 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.”
A heart-felt conversation with a counselor who was gay led Booker to a new perspective, he wrote.
“It was chilling to find that so much of the testimony he shared with me was almost identical to stories my grandparents told me about growing up Black. … 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.”
A Booker spokesman has also declined to discuss the matter.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.