Aaron Schock, an ex-congressman with a history of voting against LGBT issues, has come out as gay.
In a statement published on his website and Instagram page, the former Republican Illinois politician opens up about his sexual orientation after resigning from Congress in March 2015.
“I am gay,” the 38-year-old declared. “For those who know me and for many who only 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 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.”
While detailing his faith-based childhood in the rural Midwest, he writes that he “understood that the teachings of my upbringing were pretty clear on the matter [of being gay].”
“Because of [his religious roots], 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 reveals. “I always preferred to force my thoughts in other directions, leaving a final answer about that for another day.”
After he was elected to Congress in 2008 — he was the legislative body's youngest member at age 27 — Schock “received a lot of attention” for his fashion and “preoccupation with physical fitness.”
Years later, in 2015, Schock was criticized for allegedly overspending on the redesign of his Capitol Hill office, rumored to be inspired by a room seen on the television show “Downton Abbey.”
“Untruthful stories were written,” he asserts. “Even years into my time in Washington, I was still naïve enough to wonder why the news media would run with an utterly false story about me and a show I’d never even heard of, and still haven’t seen, ‘Downton Abbey.’”
After resigning from Congress in 2015, Schock was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2016 on 24 counts, including wire fraud and theft of government funds.
During this period of facing what he calls “false charges,” Schock writes that he believes prosecutors “weaponized questions about [his] personal life and used innuendo in an attempt to cast [him] as a person of deceptive habit and questionable character.”
In March 2019, prosecutors reached an agreement to drop the charges as Schock agreed to pay back taxes and reimburse his campaign.
In his new statement, Schock also addresses his record of voting against LGBT issues, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
“No one gets to choose when we learn our lives’ big lessons. Mine have been no different. In 2008, as a Republican running in a conservative district, I took the same position on gay marriage held by my party’s nominee, John McCain,” he writes.
He notes “that position against marriage equality, though, was also then held by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well.”
“That fact doesn’t make my then position any less wrong, but it’s sometimes easy to forget that it was leaders of both parties who for so long wrongly understood what it was to defend the right to marry."
While commending the activism of community leaders, “ordinary LGBT folks,” and gay bloggers, he declares, “The truth is that if I were in Congress today, I would support LGBTQ rights in every way I could.”
Read his post (below):