A former US Republican lawmaker, Aaron Schock, came out as gay in a post published on his Instagram account and personal website.
Schock consistently voted against policies aimed at helping the LGBT+ community. In 2010, he voted against repealing the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law which prevented gay and bisexual people from openly serving in the US military.
Additionally, he also voted against hate crime protections for people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and voted in favour of defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
In his post, Schock said throughout history, the people who caused the greatest social change never held office.
“I can live openly now as a gay man because of the extraordinary, brave people who had the courage to fight for our rights when I did not: community activists, leaders, and ordinary LGBT folks,” he said.
He added that while he would vote in favour of LGBT+ legislation were he a member of the US congress today, he still holds many views which go against the mainstream LGBT+ movement.
“I hope that others can respect that for me being gay has not required stepping into some entirely new belief system, disconnected from every other facet of my life’s experiences. I haven’t overcome one kind of repression for another.”
For many, Schock’s coming out did not come as a surprise – something Schock himself admitted. Last year, he attended the music festival Coachella and was photographed kissing men. Even before that there were media rumours about Schock’s sexuality though.
His coming out has been met with a mixed response, with some congratulating him for leaving the closet while others condemned him for hurting the LGBT+ community.
I'm glad @AaronSchock finally feels free to be his authentic self publicly, which everyone deserves, but in his long coming out, I saw a lot of defensiveness and excuses for his extensive anti-LGBTQ record in Congress and missing from it were two words:
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) March 5, 2020
Coming out is very hard. I totally get it. Especially when growing up in a religious atmosphere. But there’s still no actual apology from Aaron Schock for his voting record on LGBTQ rights in his coming out posthttps://t.co/7Cqcsc72Xs
— Edgar Ramirez (@ERam631) March 5, 2020
Others have sympathised with Schock’s religious upbringing and the difficulties that come with coming out in such an environment.
"Pictures online made clear what I was en route to tell my mother in person. She told me to turn around and go back to LA. I wasn’t welcome at home for Easter."
Aaron Schock was always a fun punching bag but parts of his coming-out letter are really heartbreaking. https://t.co/go7QBsAXJP
— Caroline McCarthy 🧢 (@caro) March 5, 2020
His coming out statement is a fascinating insight into the intense pressure created by homophobic cultures, like the one he grew up in and clearly wanted to be a part of. It is an insight into why so many gay men live double lives, out and gay (and desired) in the big city…
— Tim Fitzsimons (@tfitzsimons) March 5, 2020
Schock wanted to be the one to come out to his family, but the pictures of him at Coachella reached his parents. “She [his mother] told me to turn around and go back to LA. I wasn’t welcome at home for Easter,” he said.
“To characterise some of these conversations with my family in general, it’s fair to say it has not been a case of instant acceptance and understanding.”
Schock holds out hope that his family will accept him one day – although some of his family members send him emails about conversion therapy.
Aaron Schock resigned from congress in 2015 following controversy on his spending habits.
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