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Why Can’t Cory Booker Be Straight?

January 29, 2013

Corey Booker is literally saving puppies.

I once dated a guy who had I not been actively dating him, I would have assumed was gay. Very, very gay. I won’t go into all of the reasons why but I hate (HATE) to admit that his feminine behavior is to some extent  what turned me off and I ended it after a few dates. Why was I so mad at myself? Because I felt that I constantly fight against the feminine characteristics I’m supposed to display, and in fact pride myself on the many masculine characteristics I have accrued (I drive stick, I deadlift at the gym, I’m ridiculously educated). But I wasn’t able to even fathom being attracted to man who didn’t really care much about masculine characteristics and who displayed feminine ones. If we can accept that  straight women can run the spectrum from Kim Kardashian to Hillary Clinton, why can’t we accept that a straight man can act like Kanye West or Cory Booker?

My first inkling of an unease with how we conceptualize straight men came during the Republican presidential nominee campaign in 2011. You know where this is going right? Even Jon Stewart, for whom I would seriously consider voting for public office, joined the fray and made fun of Michele Bachmann’s husband for obviously being gay and not knowing it. The evidence? He likes to dance and has a high pitched voice. This was enough for Stewart to make the crack that he was “an Izod shirt away from being the gay character on ‘Modern Family.'” Now don’t get me wrong, Marcus Bachmann’s assertions that gay teenagers are “barbarians” and his therapy to “cure” them of their gay ways are absolutely horrific, but I’m not sure if accusing him of being gay does a whole lot for those of us who want to be accepted as individuals instead of being pegged into this or that stereotype.

Once the Cory Booker gossip machine started a-rumbling I felt that unease again. There is no way for me to know if he is straight, gay, bisexual, asexual, etc. Even if I personally had sex with him (which I am happy to attempt in order to give credence to this piece) I wouldn’t know if he was actually attracted to me or just playing the role because no non-hetero man or woman is getting voted into the Presidency anytime soon. But why this need to know?

Because we are agitated. We are agitated that he is acting like one identity (a gay man) but saying he is another (a straight man). While we may not often talk about the stereotypes of straight men, they exist. And this situation lends itself to uncovering them because stereotypes are easiest to spot when the expectations they set up are violated. And Booker with his single life, person and puppy heroics, food stamp budget, and overall compassion for other human beings seems to violate the expectations we have of straight men.

Booker seems to pull back the curtain on our expectations that straight men have no business truly caring about the lives of other people (or animals for that matter) and having perspective on the experiences of members of other groups, especially people with different sexual orientations than their own. How could a man like that be single? I have no idea, but aside from the possibility that he’s gay and hiding it because he knows it will negatively affect his political career there is the actual possibility that he’s straight and hasn’t met the right woman, for whatever reason (the man is pretty damn busy).

In case it’s the latter and he’s reading this (he’s kind of known for being on the internet a lot) I’d be happy to take him for a drink in California where we can talk about breaking stereotypes and bond over our mutual alma mater.

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