Former Illinois congressman Aaron Schock revealed to the world that he was gay on Thursday morning. Schock, 38, served as the U.S. representative of Peoria, Illinois 18th district from 2009 to 2015.
In a message shared on his website and on Instagram Schock, who opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” while serving in office wrote, “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.”
“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. In many ways, I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner.”
“I offer my story as one person’s experience. I’ve come to believe it is, in some respects, just a more public version of a difficult and ultimately, now optimistic, journey familiar to many LGBTQ people.”
Here’s what you need to know about Aaron Schock:
1. Schock Was Staunchly Against Gay Marriage & LGBTQ Rights During His Political Career
The former GOP representative discusses in his lengthy letter that during his time in Congress, he did the opposite of supporting the LGBTQ community. Schock wrote, “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. That position against marriage equality, though, was also then held by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama as well.”
“As is the case throughout most of human history, those who advance the greatest social change never hold elected 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. Gay bloggers who rallied people to our cause. I recognize this even in the face of the intense and sometimes vicious criticism that I’ve received from those same people.”
But now Schock regrets not doing what was right when he has the chance and power as a representative.
“The truth is that if I were in Congress today, I would support LGBTQ rights in every way I could. I realize that some of my political positions run very much counter to the mainstream of the LGBTQ movement, and I respect them for those differences. I hope people will allow me the same.”
2. Schock Was Spotted Partying With Gay Actor Eliad Cohen Two Days Before Coming Out
As reported by Queerty, Schock was seen hanging out on the beach with Israeli actor Eliah Cohen, 31, who came out as gay 11 years ago. Cohen is also the founder of the PAPA Party, a pride event created in Tel Aviv.
This isn’t the first time Schock was seen out in public acting in ways that seemed at odds with him continuing to deny that he was gay. In June 2019, Newsweek reported that the former politician was hanging out in Mexico at Boy Bar, a famous gay bar in the Zona Rosa, and tipping male strippers.
3. Schock Was Forced To Resign From Congress After Being Charged With 22 Indictments
The former congressman left office in quite a disgraceful situation. After spending $40 to redecorate his government offices to emulate Downton Abbey, he was investigated by the feds and charged with submitting false reports to the FEC, filing false tax returns, mail fraud, wire fraud, making false statements and theft of government funds.
According to Politico, Schock continued to try to get the 22 indictments against him thrown out in 2018, but his motion was declined.
Schock’s legal issues started in 2015. The FBI started to investigate his finances after it was alleged that the congressman was illegally submitting false care mileage and stealing tens of thousands of dollars on personal trips.
However, in 2019, the federal charges against Schock were dropped.
4. Schock Was In The Media Spotlight After Posing Shirtless On The Cover Of Men’s Health
In 2011, the young congressman turned heads for his ripped body appearing on the cover of Men’s Health magazine. Schock was already making headlines for being the youngest representative in the House of Representatives, but most people don’t see their congressman mostly naked on the cover of a fitness magazine, as well.
In the article, Schock described his intense work-out regimen and diet plan. “You can pack a lot of calories on the end of a toothpick,” Schock said. “You have a drink and a few hors d’oeuvres and you’ve just downed hundreds of calories. Exercise is more important than diet for me because it’s a twofer. It keeps me in good physical shape, and it relieves stress. And when you’re a representative of the public, there’s never a shortage of things to do.”
5. The Twitter Response To Schock Coming Out Was Complicated, Many Not Seeing ‘An Apology’ In ‘His 9 Page Letter’
Schock, who previously responded to questions about being gay as “completely ridiculous and inappropriate” — his coming out announcement was met with mixed reactions online. Sirius XM radio host Michelangelo Signorile tweeted, “Former GOP congressman Aaron Schock finally comes out and makes like it’s no big deal that he’s gay. He voted against all of us — voted with the bigoted GOP on discriminating against gay people — over and over. Screw him.”
Model and YouTuber Willam tweeted, “F*** this moron who resigned from Congress mainly because he screwed taxpayers on his expense account, including but not limited to re-decorating his office Downton Abbey style. So help me goddess if i see her at pride.”