Cory Booker: The Upside of Coming Out

Cory Booker (Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)
Cory Booker (Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Writing at Time, John McWhorter argues that speculation about Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker's sexuality is all wrong. It would be greatly advantageous to the New Jersey Democratic Senate candidate to be an openly gay politician on the national stage, he writes.

"I don’t intend to answer." "So what does it matter if I am?" "Why should that matter?"

These are the answers Cory Booker has been giving the media about questions as to whether he is gay. The fact is, whether it’s fair or not, the mystery surrounding Booker’s personal life, fed by his puckishly elusive non-denials, has led to speculation over the years about his orientation. While only Booker can speak to the personal part of the equation, the political part should be clear: An openly gay politician on the national stage would not suffer for his disclosure—he would almost certainly benefit…

But wait — it "doesn’t matter" who Booker sleeps with, right? Well, maybe it won’t in about 2030. But in our times, it does, though not in the way you might think: It could help him reach the highest heights.

Especially by 2020, it might well even be a plus factor among a certain stratum of voters if Booker were gay — i.e. exactly the stratum that reveled in the enlightenment of cheering for a black presidential candidate. Booker is neither a comedian, larger than life, nor a preacher, and being "Supermayor" only goes so far — he could use a hook. With Obama now the new normal, blackness alone won’t do it anymore. Being gay would. And how about gay and black?


Read John McWhorter's entire piece at Time.

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John McWhorter is a contributing editor at The Root. He is an associate professor at Columbia University and the author of several books, including Winning the Race: Beyond the Crisis in Black America and Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.