A quote at the end of a lengthy profile of Democratic Senate candidate Cory Booker published in the Washington Post is garnering a great deal of attention, as the Newark mayor addresses the question of whether or not he is gay.
Booker, 44 and still single, talked in the article—which anticipates Booker joining the Senate after the election in October—about why he has been so private over the years about his dating life.
“Because how unfair is it to a young lady to put them in the spotlight if they haven’t signed up for that yet?” he says. “And 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.’”
That quote spread across the Internet, likely because Booker is being so coy in his answer. Rumors about Booker’s sexuality have swirled around him for more than a decade, starting when former Newark Mayor Sharpe James and his aides began a whisper campaign that Booker was gay when he unsuccessfully challenged James in the 2002 mayoral race—famously captured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Street Fight.”
Booker finally won the mayoralty in 2006, beating City Council member Ronald Rice, an ally of James.
In addition to being called gay, Booker has also been romantically linked to Arianna Huffington and television personality—and Oprah’s BFF—Gayle King. In the Washington Post profile, Booker appears to deny the Huffington rumors.
But he does talk about the discomfort his single status has caused others. He told a story of calling a pastor friend after Booker was upset by yet another murder in Newark. At the end of the conversation, expecting spiritual advice, Booker said he got something else.
“You need to get married,” the pastor told him.
And Booker got this from Sen. Charles E. Schumer, the veteran senator from New York: Schumer told Booker he had a hole in his heart that he didn’t even realize.
“I said, ‘What do you mean, senator?’ . . . And he said, ‘You don’t have children.’ ”