Newark Mayor Cory Booker chronicled his battle with homophobia in a college newspaper column published more than a decade ago.
Republished online by The Stanford Daily for the first time since it ran on April 8, 1992, the New Jersey Democrat wrote that he "hated gays."
"The disgust and latent hostility I felt toward gays were subcategories of hatred, plain and simple," Booker wrote. "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.'"
Booker earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford in 1991 and 1992, respectively. In his column, Booker wrote it was only after hearing the stories of discrimination from a gay person that he faced his own bigotry.
"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," Booker wrote, adding, "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."
The unearthed column comes as the 43-year-old Booker's national profile continues to rise. Last month, Booker announced he would explore running for the U.S. Senate in 2014.
One of the most outspoken advocates of marriage equality in the Democratic Party, Booker spoke at the Human Rights Campaign’s annual national dinner in October. In that speech Booker equated the fight for marriage equality to the struggles endured by other minorities.
"We are the ones who must say, like the spirit of our ancestors, 'I am black and I am here. I am Polish and I am here. I am Irish and I am here. I am Jewish and I am here. I am gay, I am transgender, I am queer and I am here. Get used to it,'" Booker said.
READ Booker's entire column on The Stanford Daily's website.
[Photo: Booker's column as it appeared in 1992 (Courtesy of The Standford Daily).]