An Aaron Schock? Or Is It Schmuck?

Two Republican leaders; one was acquitted by the GOP Senate, the other had the charges dropped four years after resigning in disgrace.
Instagram/ @AaronSchock

Disgraced ex-Congressmember Aaron Schock took a break from visiting gay bars on the DL and finally came clean about his sexual orientation in an Instagram post on March 5.

“I am gay,” the 38-year-old longtime homophobe wrote in the post. “For those who know me and for many who only know of me, this will come as no surprise.”

No surprise indeed.

The Illinois Republican’s announcement followed years of suspicion about his sexual orientation — including video of him making out with a guy at Coachella and photos of him enjoying himself at a Mexico City gay bar that surfaced last year.

He claims he is coming out now because he has concluded a years-long legal battle stemming from his 2016 indictment on 24 charges that included misusing federal taxpayer dollars, wire fraud, mail fraud, and filing false tax returns. The charges were later dropped.

Nowhere in Schock’s lengthy note was there an apology for voting against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act or for opposing the effort to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010, among other direct actions he took against the LGBTQ community. During his six years on Capitol Hill, the now-38-year-old also resisted the Affordable Care Act.

A prominent gay Republican told Gay City News that Schock had been strongly advised at that time to support repeal of the anti-gay military policy to avoid having activists out him over the issue.

Schock did acknowledge that he had opposed same-sex marriage, but he couldn’t resist adding a disclaimer that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton also opposed marriage equality in those years. He said if he had not left Congress, he would support LGBTQ rights today “in every way.”

“The fact that I am gay is just one of the things in my life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person,” he wrote. “In many ways I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner.”

In his note, Schock recalled his faith-based upbringing in the rural Midwest, first in Minnesota and then in Illinois, explaining that he “thrived in this environment” in many ways.

“I’m sure I knew other gay people in those years of growing up, but I don’t think any of us were aware of it,” he wrote. “I understood that the teachings of my upbringing were pretty clear on the matter. Because of it, as I got older and first felt myself drawn in the direction of my natural orientation, I didn’t want to think about it…”

He also opened up about his time in the nation’s capital, saying he enjoyed the attention he received in Washington, DC, while also complaining about news stories that compared the appearance of his expensively-redecorated congressional office to the television show “Downton Abbey,” a program he says “I’d never even heard of and still haven’t seen.”

Schock went on to complain about the way he was portrayed in the media, saying articles during his time in Congress tied him “to a stereotype” and that “it was another way, albeit more sophisticated, to be teased about being gay. A dog whistle.”

He claims he considered coming out while in office but assumed that news would not be received well by his constituents in his Peoria-based district.

Schock, who resigned from his seat in 2015, was first elected to the Illinois State Legislature in 2005 and remained there until 2009, at which point he rose to the US House of Representatives from that state’s 18th Congressional District. He was initially viewed as a young rising star in the Republican Party.

But after he became embroiled in legal trouble and subsequently resigned, he was suddenly no longer the Republican poster child anymore. He now blames prosecutors for keeping him in the closet thanks to their investigation.

“But the government’s tactics in prosecuting my case made it obvious that coming out would be better discussed after the charges against me were dropped,” he wrote. “It was ironic and painful; just as I was finally ready to come out of the closet, it felt as though someone had locked the door.”

According to his Instagram post, Schock first intended to come out as gay to his family last year before announcing the news to the public. He said he was heading home to come out to his mother when she heard about his sexual orientation because of the Coachella video clips and told him he was not welcome there. She has since changed her tune, according to Schock, who said she recently told him that “if there is anyone special in my life, she wants to meet them.”

Near the conclusion of his note, Schock said it is “never too late to be authentic and true to yourself.”

That is, unless you’ve already spent years attacking millions of LGBTQ Americans.

At that point it probably is too late.