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Today’s minisode is dedicated to a special person indeed and perfectly addresses a long-standing issue in the LGBTQ+ community. In March of this year, former representative Aaron Schock came out as gay. The name may be familiar as the politician made quite a name and a scandal for himself in the brief 5 years he was in Congress. And in fact, we have discussed him before in the past during one of our “I’m not gay, YOU’RE gay” episodes. Aside from the corruption charges for spending fraud, the former Republican Congressman has long faced rumors of being gay. And the word ‘rumors’ is an understatement as they’ve been backed with photos, video, and everything short of a confession from Schock. Yet for whatever reason, the politician did not see it beneficial until now to come formally out as gay. Perhaps the success of Pete Buttigieg’s campaign inspired him. Or perhaps he has found a new angle he can work.

Before we get to his coming out statement, let’s learn a little bit more about Aaron Schock. He was born in Minnesota and spent the first several years of his life on a farm before his family relocated to Peoria, Illinois. In high school, Schock became interested in business and bought his first piece of real estate. He was ready to start his life and requested permission to graduate early but the school board denied his request. So upon his graduation, Aaron Schock decided to run in the school board election. He won his seat by a 57% vote and became the youngest member on the board. He would work his way up the board and become the young school board president in Illinois history.

Even though the school board had blocked him from early graduation Schock had enrolled in his local community college anyway and took dual courses in high school and college. He obtained his Bachelors degree just two years after his high school graduation. And two years later he ran for Illinois State Senate at the age of 23 and four years later he ran for a U.S. Senate seat. Upon winning that election, at 27 years of age Aaron Schock became the youngest senator in the country. He was a rising Republican star and a darling of the Conservative right. There was certainly speculation about how such a successful, handsome, and fit young man would still be single. The rumors had swirled since his state election in 2004. But for many years there were just whispers.

During his time as a U.S. senator Aaron Schock voted against extending federal hate crime law to cover LGBTQ+ people, he voted against the Employment Discrimination Amendment which would cover LGBTQ+ people in the workplace. The same law that was threatened by the Trump administration and recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Schock voted against the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy which would allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly.  He voted to block funds that attacked DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Instead, upholding the program that directly blocked gay Americans from accessing federal recognition of same-sex marriage. All of which should have come as little surprise as he took a hard, open stance against gay marriage during his campaigns. 

In 2014, the Human Rights Campaign gave Aaron Schock a zero percent rating for his voting records on LGBTQ+ equality. Ironic as the man was currently living with his “male roommate” and showering the so-called roommate with gifts. A fact brought to light that same year when journalist Itay Hod revealed Schock’s roommate to the world and the fact that the anti-gay senator spent quite a good bit of his free time visiting the D.C. gay bars. Essentially, Hod outed the senator who had previously strongly denied the long-standing rumors that he was gay. In his coming out statement, Schock states that once this truth was exposed, he planned to come out. But then was faced with a more disturbing article.

The Washington Post dropped an article in February of 2015 concerning a claim filed by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (known as CREW). Crew asserted that Schock’s spending was excessively lavish and even criminal. In addition to the rumors about his orientation, Schock had made quite a name for himself in regards to his vanity. As CREW executive Anne Weismann stated, “Again and again, Rep. Schock’s seeming obsession with his image impedes his ability to conduct himself in [an] ethical manner.” As a whole, many people in Washington were becoming more than annoyed with the young senator’s arrogance and plain narcissism. Famed gay senator Barney Frank even once even commented on the politician’s looks, “He spent entirely too much time in the gym for a straight man”. 

And he did spend a lot of time in the gym. Aaron Schock, to this day, perfectly embodies white, privileged gays whose only concern is for themselves and their looks. His voting record not only decimated the LGBTQ+ community, but he also voted against women’s reproductive rights, against race-based affirmative action, and against the DREAM Act. He voted repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act and openly endorsed the waterboarding of prisoners. If it doesn’t affect Aaron Schock, then he doesn’t seem to care. So what if people can’t afford insurance? Not Aaron’s problem. DREAMERS being threatened to be sent to a place they’ve never known? Again, not Aaron’s problem. And he made that clear in his recent coming out statement when he added:

“I realize some of my political beliefs run very much counter to the mainstream of the LGBTQ movement…I hope that others can accept that for me being gay has not required stepping into some entirely new belief system”.

Apparently, the “entirely new belief system” of empathy and understanding for others circumstances is too much to ask of the 39-year-old former senator. Despite his repeated pleas for empathy and understanding of HIS situation. After the Washington Post article, Aaron Schock’s campaign launched an internal investigation that did reveal many discrepancies in the Senator’s spending. In March of 2015, Schock resigned from his position but came under the scrutiny of a federal investigation. He was indicted on 24 counts of fraud, false statements, and false tax returns. But the young politician wouldn’t go down without a long and brutal fight. Finally, in March of 2019, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges in exchange for 6 months probation and $110,000 in fees. In September of last year, the probation ended and the charges against Aaron Schock were formally dropped. 

During his so-called probation, Schock was seen living it up in Coachella, Mexico City, and Los Angeles. Video and photos surfaced of his living his best gay life including a video of him kissing another man. Yet he still had not come out nor addressed his aggressive voting record against the LGBTQ+ community. While he partied with his friends he enjoyed the wealth and status that his privilege gave him. And while most of the queer community condemned him, several gays turned a blind eye to the man who had wreaked so much havoc. 

In March of this year, the politician, who is nearly 40 years old and spent 10 years attacking queer rights, finally came out as gay. The statement he posted to Instagram is quite long but here are a few parts (we’ve also linked the post in our script):

I am gay.

For those who know me and those who know of me this will come as no surprise. For the past year, I have been working through a list of people who I felt should hear the news directly from me before I made a public statement…

He talks about his life in Illinois and how he was sheltered but driven to succeed. He mentions that he threw himself into his work and said “I put my ambition over the truth, which not only hurt me, but others as well”. He continues and discusses other reasons why he did not come out such as fear of losing his senate seat. He tells a sad story, which is often the story for those who grow up in the midwest. His statement on his families reaction to the news reads as such:

To characterize some of the conversations with my family in general, it is fair to say it has not been an instant case of acceptance and understanding. What I had to share was unwelcome news to every single person in my family, out of the blue in some cases, and was met with sadness, disappointment, and unsympathetic citations to Scriptures. 

He then goes into his reasons for his abhorrent voting record around LGBTQ+ issues. Rather than apologizing, he makes excuses and throws barbs at those he assumes, rightly, will attack him.

“I can live openly now as a gay man” he states, “because of the extraordinary, brave people who had the courage to fight for our rights when I did not… Gay bloggers who rallied people to our cause. I realize this in spite of the intense and sometimes vicious criticism I have received from those same people.”

All throughout the statement, he speaks of how unfair and unjust the government was to him and of how hard his coming out has been. And we do not mean to belittle the fear and rejection many LGBTQ+ people face when they come out of the closet. We just wonder how a person can feel that kind of fear and rejection and not relate to those around them. What about the young woman who is fearful or raising a baby she does not want or cannot care for? Is there no compassion for her? What about the Black mother who watches her son leave the house every day and wonders if he’ll return safely? Or the DREAMER who has built an entire life in their home here in America and now sees it threatened? What about the rejection others faced when they lost their jobs or did not have their hate crimes taken seriously? Not ONCE did Aaron Schock apologize for what he did to his queer siblings and fellow citizens.

Instead, Aaron Shocks coming out statement reeks of that stale emptiness that shows he has learned nothing from his experience. Coming out is a painful experience no matter who you are, but it is also beautiful. In our coming out, our eyes are often opened for the first time and we shed the dead weight of our own outward bigotry and internalized hate. That is what coming out should signify. But instead, it seems the fading star is just looking for another angle to reinvent himself. As Jonatha Van Ness wrote, “His apology wholly dodged any responsibility in the awful actions he perpetrated against our community,”. And that is only the surface issue. 

Aaron Schock represents that side of the gay community that the rest of us are done with. If you don’t stand for ALL human rights then you have no place in our community. If you cannot see the oppression of ALL people then we do welcome you here. This is no longer a gay rights movement, we are a queer revolution that embraces the struggles of all our siblings. So dance your perfect body away on a beach and fade from our timelines. Join the group of other gays more obsessed with their tan and six-pack than in the fight for true equality. If you and your friends are not here to stand for justice and humanity, then no, you are not welcome here either. 

Check out the new Queer Digest: https://queerdigest.com

REFERENCES:

  1. Wiki – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron_Schock#Social_issues
  2. Coming Out Statement – https://www.instagram.com/p/B9W8bGvjTp-/?utm_source=ig_embed
  3. Daily News – https://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-anti-gay-ex-congressman-aaron-schock-comes-out-as-gay-himself-20200306-ayrqxj2zarfhtavdd7h7horxsy-story.html
  4. Jonathan Van Ness – https://www.rollcall.com/2020/03/06/queer-eye-star-responds-to-his-hometowns-former-congressman-aaron-schock/
  5. NY Times – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/us/politics/aaron-schock-gay.html
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