- In a letter shared on social media and his website, former Republican congressman Aaron Schock came out as gay on Thursday.
- The news failed to excite members of the LGBTQ+ community, given Schock's long and well-documented record of supporting discriminatory policies as an Illinois lawmaker.
- In particular, many took issue with Schock's failure to apologize for the role he played in limiting rights for queer Americans during his four terms in office.
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Former Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois came out as gay via a lengthy letter shared to Instagram and his website on Thursday, to very little surprise or fanfare from the LGBTQ+ community. But the polarizing news still generated a flood of reactions on social media.
"I am gay," Schock wrote in the announcement. "For those who know me and for many who only know of me, this will come as no surprise," Schock said in a very lengthy Instagram post about his decision to open up about his sexuality to the public. "For the past year, I have been working through a list of people who I felt should finally hear the news directly from me before I made a public statement. I wanted my mother, my father, my sisters, my brother, and my closest friends to hear it from me first."
"The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in my life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person," he continued. "In many ways I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner."
Elected to Congress in 2008 at 27, Schock served four terms before resigning in March 2015 after being accused of improperly spending campaign and taxpayer dollars, as well as questionable dealings with donors. He was later indicted in 2016 by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and theft, until prosecutors reached an agreement in 2019 and the charges were dropped. Schock claims he has since repaid and reimbursed all parties involved.
Schock's sexuality has been a topic of speculation for years, despite his repeated support of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation as a lawmaker. Memorably, he voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and against the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell." Now, queer and marginalized communities are finding it difficult to embrace him.
In his letter, Schock noted that if he were in Congress today, he would "support L.G.B.T.Q. rights in every way" he could. But many took issue with Schock's failure to apologize for making life more difficult for queer Americans over the course of his political career.
Schock noted in the letter that "fellow gays active in politics" warned him about "what to expect from the LGBTQ public." And indeed, few on Twitter found it easy to empathize with what Schock called "a tough and lonely career ordeal."
Some offered slightly more empathetic takes, acknowledging how difficult coming out can be under the best circumstances, much less as a GOP wunderkind who was raised in a religious household in the rural Midwest.
That said, Schock's remorse, though seemingly sincere, may not be enough to rehabilitate his public image.
"This journey has taught me a valuable lesson," his letter concludes. "Whether you are gay or straight, it's never too late to be authentic and true to yourself."
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