Former GOP representative Aaron Schock, who earned a reputation for promoting anti-LGBTQ legislation while ducking rumors regarding his sexuality, came out as gay in an Instagram post Thursday.
“The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in life in need of explicit information, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person,” Schock wrote. “In many ways, I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner.”
Schock, who grew up in a conservative religious household, entered Washington D.C. politics at age 27, noting that he put “my ambition over the truth, which not only hurt me, but others as well,” The Advocate reports.
But criticism erupted in 2015 as a result of a scandal amid accusations that he used taxpayer dollars to decorate his office to resemble Downtown Abbey, a popular television show. At the time, Schock criticized this as a false “dog whistle” about being a closeted gay man.
He was critical of the media at the time and the federal investigation that followed into whether he diverted government and campaign funds for his personal use, which also included mileage reimbursements and travel.
“Thinking I was out of the political spotlight made me much less worried about others knowing that I was gay,” he wrote. “I truly wanted to tell my family and felt ready to do so, starting with Mom and Dad. But just as I felt comfortable enough to come out, government prosecutors weaponized questions about my personal life and used innuendo in an attempt to cast me as a person of deceptive habit and questionable character. My family, friends, and former employees were subpoenaed and asked prying questions about my personal and dating life.”
Schock has previously noted he “threw” himself into his work because he didn’t believe people would accept him as a gay man. That led him to vote against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” as well as against protections for LGBTQ people victimized by hate crimes. But that’s not all. He also supported the Defense of Marriage Act.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges against Schock in 2019 if he agreed to pay back money owed to the Internal Revenue Service and his campaign fund.
Some Twitter users voiced disappointment that Schock took so long to come out, noting that his reticence may have caused real harm.
I'm glad @AaronSchock finally feels free to be his authentic self publicly, which everyone deserves, but in his long coming out, I saw a lot of defensiveness and excuses for his extensive anti-LGBTQ record in Congress and missing from it were two words:
— Charlotte Clymer 🇺🇦 (@cmclymer) March 5, 2020
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.
— Michelangelo Signorile (@MSignorile) March 5, 2020