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New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said Thursday he was proud of a 1992 opinion piece where he, then a student at Stanford University, explained how he evolved from a hatred of gay people to acceptance of LGBTQ people.

Booker, in a piece titled “Pointing the finger at gays,” explained how he once was “disgusted by gays,” “hated gays” and “thought of two men kissing each other was about as appealing as a frontal lobotomy.” Booker went on to explain in the piece, however, how a gay counselor at Stanford “began to move me past tolerance.”

“Well, 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,” Booker wrote.

Booker explained on Thursday that he held his views about gay people, in part, because he grew up “as a young man in a toxic environment of football and the like.”

“As a campus activist, I wanted to try to push people to understand the absurdities of homophobia, and became a campus activist on those issues,” Booker recalled. “And so I wrote this article to challenge people about their homophobia and about their hatred and to say the euphemisms we use for hatred is just wrong.”

He added: “I will always be someone that tries to push the lines of comfort, often talking about my own experiences. And I am so proud of that column, and I am proud that this doesn’t start for me when I decided to get into politics and it started as a teenager that saw growing up in the ’80s, an environment that was hostile and physically dangerous to my peers and friends who my faith taught me to love no matter what.”

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