21-Year-Old Stanford Daily Column by Newark Mayor Cory Booker Enters National Political Discussion

A 21-year-old column in The Stanford Daily detailing a graduate student’s personal battle with homophobia has entered the national political discussion.  The chief reason is the name in the byline: Newark mayor and rising politico Cory Booker.

In the April 1992 column— appearing on the Daily’s website earlier this week– Booker candidly expresses the revulsion he felt toward homosexuals while growing up.  “I was disgusted by gays,” he wrote.  “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.”

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Yowzer.  But in the column he contends he gained a greater understanding and sense of tolerance while at Stanford.  In 1992, Booker was in his fifth year at the university, working toward his M.A. in sociology a year after graduating with a B.A. in political science.  He was also a Stanford Daily columnist.

He writes that his increased tolerance apparently spun out in large part from conversations he had with a gay staffer at Stanford’s peer counseling center.  As he noted, the counselor “told me of the violence [levied at homosexuals]– violence from strangers and family, horrible images of beatings, destruction of property, and the daily verbal condemnations.  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.”

Stanford Daily editors republished the piece as part of a larger project aimed at spotlighting interesting content from its archives.  It is currently the most popular story on the paper’s site and has attained A-list virility throughout the interwebs. The mainstream media latched onto it yesterday.  And Booker has now released a statement about it, days after officially filing for a run at a 2014 U.S. Senate seat.

As he shares, “This column has been brought to light 21 years later– and I’m pleased.  Decades have passed since the 1980s, but LGBT youth (and adults) still face vicious hatred, physical violence, subtle and overt intimidation, relentless bullying and the tragic understanding that this nation does not view them as equal citizens under the law with the full rights and privileges that other Americans enjoy.”

Importantly, Newark’s Star-Ledger notes, “Booker has been a consistent advocate for LGBT causes since his 2006 election as mayor of Newark. He has refused to perform marriages in protest of marriage inequality, and formed the first municipal LGBT commission in the state.”

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