In an op-ed written while in college, the Newark mayor talked about the evolution of his views towards gays.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker admitted that he was once "disgusted by gays" in a 1992 opinion piece he wrote for The Stanford Daily, which the paper recently republished.
In Pointing the Fingers at Gays, Booker wrote that he trained himself to be tolerant of homosexuals yet underneath this mask, he was hiding hatred that was rooted in him.
“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.”
As a freshman Booker met Daniel Bao, a gay counselor at Stanford, who changed his life.
“I still remember our first real conversation about homosexuality,” Booker wrote. “I had no intention of listening to him; I only sought to argue and debate. Daniel, however, quickly disarmed me with his personal testimony.”
Their conversations ultimately changed his mindset, he said.
“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.
By the end of the piece, the younger Booker declared his future purpose to stand for everyone’s rights. “I must continue to struggle for personal justice. This is my most important endeavor.”
In a tweet Thursday, the mayor said that he “was writing about my teenage struggle for integrity.”
BET National News — Keep up to date with breaking news stories from around the nation, including headlines from the hip hop and entertainment world. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)