Cory Booker (Evolving) Back in 1992: "Pointing the Finger at Gays"

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    Jan 10, 2013 6:41 PM GMT
    1992 Op-Ed piece from the Newark mayor in his Alma Mater college paper, the Stanford Daily:

    http://www.stanforddaily.com/2013/01/09/cory-booker-pointing-the-finger-at-gays/

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Q7BYmS8LRp4/UO71q7CzeII/AAAAAAACKK8/n1CPlxjuCGc/s1600/IMG_0015a.jpg

    Cory Booker (1992)I was in my tolerance stage or the “I don’t give a damn if someone is gay, just as long as they don’t bother me” stage. 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.

    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.

    Oh, if only I could recount to you the entire conversation. He told me of people who religiously prayed to God to help them become straight. He told me of the years of denial and the pain of always feeling different.

    And he told me of the violence – 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. People found it revolting to share a meal with them and often felt it to be their duty to beat them so that they would learn proper living.

    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.

    I sometimes pray for the patience that Daniel so artfully maintained with me when I fired questions and condemnations at him – because, in recent years, I have grown increasingly angry at the hypocrisy that surrounds me.

    In my columns I have never sought to preach self-righteous psycho-babble – but the temptation here is almost overwhelming. I have seen too many of my male friends – no matter whether they’re on the football field or inside a church – bash gays and then revel in their machismo or piety.
    But again, I will never point a finger when the finger is best pointed at me.

    Alas, occasionally I still find myself acting defensive if someone thinks I am gay or sometimes I remain silent when others slam and slander. These realizations hurt me deeply. I must continue to struggle for personal justice. This is my most important endeavor.
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    Jan 10, 2013 9:58 PM GMT
    "That was great! Thanks for sharing!" said no one ever. icon_lol.gif

    I REALLY need to work on more provocative titles.
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    Jan 11, 2013 1:56 PM GMT
    (Misleading y'all with the "Tim Tebow Caught in a Bathouse?" title was out of line, my apologies! I'm changing it back now.)

    Not an excuse by any means, but there was a reason I personally found this important for many others to read.

    It is rare to have a glimpse into the formative mindsets of our heterosexual dignitaries (politicians, athletes, celebrities, etc.) well before they grow into our social, political, and cultural consciousness.

    Here we have the personally-shared detail of the evolution of a very forthcoming young man, one who would grow to become one of America's most prominent politicians, the individual selected to give the first prime time speech at the 2012 DNC convention.

    We didn't need to wait for a Kitty Kelley tell-all bio full of third-parties suggesting what his thoughts might have been. We didn't have to wait for him to create a blog or a Twitter timeline. We get to see where he was 20-25 years ago on LGBT persons and their issues, by his own words.

    He, like many, admittedly "hated" and "was disgusted by" gays in his younger years, prodded by the influences of many around him. Yet he came to embrace the LGBT community in the age of Bowers v. Hardwick, well before the the era that followed Lawrence v. Texas, in the age when Congress was just removing the prohibition of gay foreigners from entering the freaking country, when hate crime and employment discrimination legislation was definitely an uphill battle, in the age when the ravaging of AIDS in our community was just becoming too stark for anyone, including heterosexuals, to ignore.

    He didn't need to be moved by national headlines like the late Matthew Shepard. He didn't need our military to fall into and out of DADT, or our Congress to pass DOMA, to discern right from wrong. He didn't have a World Wide Web to research and create for himself a picture of what challenges many LGBT persons around the world faced. An African-American, he didn't need a Black president to "evolve" into telling him it's okay to support marriage equality efforts as a straight ally.

    So often here we get in a lather, rightfully, by the verbal and written missteps of people with varying degrees of influence in our society, everyone from Fantasia to the Clintons to the Pope. How refreshing it is to see a kid who admittedly made those missteps but proved willing to reach out, to question others, to question himself. And then lay his evolving mindset bare, in public ink.

    We wound up with a Fierce Advocate. And it didn't take an act of Congress to get one. It took an open conversation with one openly gay counselor.

    "I had no intention of listening to him; I only sought to argue and debate. Daniel, however, quickly disarmed me with his personal testimony."

    Wasn't it just around Thanksgiving 2012 when NOM was sending out "warnings" to its flock about influential LGBT students on college campuses? I think "Drag Queen RAs" were the boogie person of the day.

    Juxtapose where this young man was with a preacher who, in his more physically mature thirties around the same time of this article, used LGBT phobia and paranoia to rise to prominence among America's conservative preachers, one who was an errant slip away from offering the benediction at the upcoming inauguration.

    "Oh, those were his thoughts in the early 90s. He's nothing like that now!", people are trying to assure us about the pastor. Yet those past sermons WERE informative, not so much on what he said, but on how far his personally chosen anti-gay platform carried him, without him having to correct his own record to his followers once.

    Many thanks to Daniel the Counselor, and the many Daniels like you out there, for helping bridge our divide by sharing personal testimonies and knowledge. Many thanks to Mayor Booker, whose class shined through well before most of us knew it existed.

    "I must continue to struggle for personal justice. This is my most important endeavor."

    Cory Booker didn't wait for it to be "cool" to declare that.
  • HottJoe

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    Jan 11, 2013 3:07 PM GMT
    Well, I have mixed emotions when I read something like that. It's great that he evolved, but reading what he evolved from really disgusted and angered me. Sounds like he thought we we're all subhuman sinners... Is that what racism feels like??? Because homophobia seems more vile than racism, to me, because it can mean being ostracized by your own family... Your mom will never be racist toward you, but she may drive you to kill yourself for being gay. It happens ALL THE TIME.icon_mad.gif
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    Jan 11, 2013 3:34 PM GMT
    HottJoe saidWell, I have mixed emotions when I read something like that. It's great that he evolved, but reading what he evolved from really disgusted and angered me. Sounds like he thought we we're all subhuman sinners... Is that what racism feels like??? Because homophobia seems more vile than racism, to me, because it can mean being ostracized by your own family... Your mom will never be racist toward you, but she may drive you to kill yourself for being gay. It happens ALL THE TIME.icon_mad.gif


    I think Booker would have expected you to be disgusted and angered about where he, like millions of Americans, were in the late 80s-early 90s. And remember these were the enlightened kids from the parents of the late 60s-early 70s. Booker was able to look at how he was cultivated to think. Not only did it anger and disgust him... it moved him to action.

    Plenty of adults will tell you gays are wonderful... now. Not many will admit how they used to think about gays, with introspection on why they did, and what helped them get out of that phobic mindset. I think that's noteworthy.

    While it's not necessary to draw parallels to experiences on race to get to where Booker did, in his case the morals of stories told of his ancestors' past made it easier to reach the conclusions he did, that "tolerating" humans like the presence of dirty diapers was not going far enough:

    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. People found it revolting to share a meal with them and often felt it to be their duty to beat them so that they would learn proper living.

    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.


    And you're right, HottJoe, about how we often downplay the historic and geographic depths of homophobia. We can often recite the three-digit numbers of years of racism prevalent since the Middle Passage, but it can pale in comparison to the countless centuries (millennia?) of homophobic actions around the globe, individual and societal, that preceded even that.