Ever since Aaron Schock and his abs arrived in Congress in 2009, rumors about his sexuality and his personal life have been the first things to greet you at the door of his Downton Abbey-inspired Capitol Hill office. Far before seeing anything else about Congressman Aaron Schock, people see someone with something to hide.
Following the Illinois congressman’s decision to resign this week amid speculation he misappropriated official funds for personal expenses, an article on Daily Beast pointed a finger back at the gay community, asking gay America to stop using Schock’s sexuality as an additional accusation against the three and a half-term GOP representative from Illinois.
True, we might be a tad harsh on Aaron. After all, the idea of a young man (27, to be exact) rolling up to the rotunda to make change happen has been an American dream since Jimmy Stewart first put that glimmer in our eye as the idyllic Mr. Smith. Shouldn’t we root for someone who could usher in a new regime and represent a generation of people taught to believe they could be and do anything they put their minds to? And those who have his well-toned back have a point. Aaron Schock’s resignation has less to do with Aaron Schock betraying himself and more to do with Aaron Schock betraying those who put him in a position of power. But the biggest, most glaring point to be made is that Congressman Schock did very little to make anything happen in his time as an elected official.
In an age when social change is altering the landscape in a rapid way, gays actually have much to be angry about. It is nothing short of amazing that we have marched, protested, called, argued and fought to get legislation on the table that strikes discrimination and promotes equality. In the spirit of Julia Sugarbaker, I have launched into tirade after tirade, fired up with angst to prove, sometimes desperately, to family members and colleagues that because I was born homosexual doesn’t mean I don’t deserve to live as a free American. In most cases, my fighting words fall on deaf ears and my defeat reminds me that I’m not in a position to enact as much change as others who are more powerful; others like Aaron Schock.
Schock, like his colleagues in Washington, in state legislatures and in city and town halls across America is elected to carry the needs of his constituents to a larger body. He’s in a position to enact change, and yet he has spent the better part of a decade doing nothing of the sort. In the hours and days since his resignation, he’s been called a “show horse,” or “placeholder” in the Republican party. His record doesn’t help to dissuade that, either. In just over three terms, Schock hasn’t co-sponsored or introduced a bill, and his ultra-right voting record reflects that of someone who retired from public service in the 1980s, not someone who was born in them. If speculation is correct, and Aaron Schock is gay, he has spent his time working against his people with every vote and every chance he got (Schock has a 0% score with the HRC).
So, should the gays leave Aaron Schock alone? Should we stop making this about his rumoured sexuality and focus on his swift resignation in the light of financial tyranny?
Aaron Schock might be gay. Or maybe he isn’t. Who knows!
But what we should take away from all of this is that he’s not only an abuser of power, but an abuser of himself. If he has spent his 33 years in the closet only to use his soapbox to persuade others to do the same, then he has not been kind to his own sense of self. The classic equation of someone with something to hide bullying others seems far too apparent to ignore. And as a minority, we’ve been teased, bullied, beaten, tied to posts, shot, stabbed, hosed, fired, passed up and left to die since long before young bright-eyed men and women alike ever dreamt of standing on the floor of Congress. Maybe now it’s simply time for Aaron Schock to join us and take his licks in the hopes it will only make him more truthful – to himself and others.