Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark and candidate for U.S. Senate from New Jersey, has been getting praise for his nonchalant attitude toward rumors that he’s gay, but last night MSNBC host Chris Hayes pointed out there’s another side to this.
“If you were gay, why would you not just come out?” Hayes, host of All In, said to Booker, who has said in response to gay rumors that he prefers to keep his private life private, although he has also said he is straight. Hayes pointed out the significance of coming out in establishing visibility for LGBT people and winning support from straights. “From the progressive perspective, there is a connection between the political and the personal,” Hayes said. “This is the argument that gay folks have been making since Harvey Milk and before.”
Booker said his position is, “The question really should not be am I gay or straight. The question should be, why the heck are you asking the question in the first place? It doesn’t make a whit of difference what kind of senator I’m going to be or not.” He added, “I have affirmed my sexual orientation numerous times over the years. People in my local press world know exactly what that is.”
The Washington Post recently quoted Booker as saying, “People who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. 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.”
Booker’s opponent in the Senate race, Steve Lonegan, then commented that Booker might be trying to win the gay vote “by acting ambiguous.” He also said Booker had a “fetish” about getting manicures and pedicures. There have been rumors for several years about Booker being gay, and he has denied it but declined to discuss anything further about his personal life.
Watch Booker’s conversation with Hayes below.