Coming out is a challenge no matter who you are. Even if you are lucky to have parents accepting of LGBT folk, as I had, you are surrounded by a society that is not quite there yet. True we have made strides, long ones, across the country, but many places are still stuck in a heterosexist nightmare, and many of queer folk have been raised to hate themselves for who they are. Everyone is facing those battles in their own way. Sometimes they face them very, very badly.
Such is the case with Congressman Aaron Schock. The now outed, gay Representative has voted against every measure to protect his own community put before him. He has voted against protecting other minorities as well. He is a fairly reprehensible individual. So I cannot have too much sympathy for the man now that his secret has been exposed.
I can have some sympathy though. I have no idea what motivated him to act the way he did, but I would expect a healthy dose of self loathing was involved. We are trained to hate ourselves, after all, by television and its heteronormative programming, by pundits, by religious leaders and far too often (and I suspect this is true in Representative Schock’s case) our own families. This man has lived decades in fear of himself and others. Maybe I am wrong, maybe he is just a cynical opportunist who did not mind throwing his own under the bus for his career, but I doubt that is the entire story.
Which is why I get so upset when people so casually assume that it is OK to out anyone. Yes, I am upset about his actions. Frankly, when it comes right down to it, I DO think it is a good thing that he has been outed. With all that said, I have a hard time swallowing such a non-challant attitude about it. I wonder how much thought was put into it. Hopefully more than some people have put into their comments suggesting the media is afraid to out anti-LGBT, gay politicians due to supposed blowback from GLAAD and the HRC. Given the number of such stories I don’t think anyone is too afraid of either group on that regard.
No, all they have said is what I am saying here. Think hard before you decide to out someone. Think about how you might be creating a culture in which ANYONE is outed as a matter of course before they are ready. Think about how you might be throwing all of us under the bus. Think about your own journey, and how it might mirror, however vaguely Aaron Shock’s. Or don’t. Maybe you are more comfortable in your self-righteous anger. Goodness knows he does not deserve our tears or respect, but we deserve a little understanding on his behalf, for all of our sakes.