Is Aaron Schock really the victim here?

Is Aaron Schock a victim of bullying?

There’s a rather odd allegation being made, in some circles, that anti-gay Republican congressman Aaron Schock is a victim of “bullying” because many critics, myself included, are openly questioning Schock’s sexual orientation.  I did it in a punny way, poking fun at his rather-gay Instagram posts, while others were more direct.

Schock’s response, immediately locking down his Instagram account and no longer “following” newly-out 19 year old Olympic diver Tom Daley, only added fuel to the flames.  As did the news that a gay personal trainer with a rather racy Twitter feed, whose tweets were favorited by Schock more than anyone else’s, suddenly deleted his account yesterday after his Twitter relationship with Schock was mentioned in a story.

While some call it “outing,” I’d call it “questioning.” I don’t know if Aaron Schock is straight or gay.  I do know, however, that he’s virulently anti-gay and sets off my rather-reliable gaydar, repeatedly and often.  And that troubles me.  It’s bad enough for any member of Congress to be anti-gay.  Anti-gay members of Congress not only harm the gay community legislatively, but they also harm us culturally, and physically.  Anti-gay members of Congress help to buttress, and feed, a culture of homophobia in this country that harms gay youth (and all of us) in a very real way, including many youth who either consider, try, or succeed in committing suicide.

aaron-schock-plaid-pants-smalkerBut when you add in the fact that an anti-gay legislator is actually gay, the offense is multiplied.  While all members of Congress should “know better” when it comes to not legislating bigotry, gay members of Congress in fact do know better.  They are legislative liars and hypocrites for condemning an evil they know doesn’t exist.

But there’s another offense, possibly far worse.  Many anti-gay gays in politics are out to their congressional colleagues – sometimes directly, though oftentimes with a nudge and wink.  By voting anti-gay, gay members of Congress send a message that it’s fine to be and vote anti-gay – after all, even the gay guy does it.

Aaron Schock has a 100% anti-gay voting record. He voted against adding sexual orientation to the already-existing hate crimes law, against the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, he opposes the repeal of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), opposes the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (that would protect gay and trans people from being fired simply because of who they are), opposes marriage equality, and at one point even supported adding language to the United States Constitution that would not only ban gay marriage, but possibly revoke every gay rights law in the country.

That hasn’t stopped a number of gays from embracing their own version of the Stockholm Syndrome, in which the bully becomes the victim, and the actual victim… well, they appear to not give too much thought to the actual victim.

Buzzfeed provides a good example of the argument:

[A] group of several gay journalists and activists on Twitter — including Dan SavageMichelangelo SignorileJohn Aravosis and Josh Barro — have decided that mocking Schock for exhibiting stereotypically gay attributes, like caring about his clothes and body, or following Daley on Instagram is the way of dealing with him. This is the same sort of behavior that the same people have said is harmful when it happens to closeted LGBT kids in schools. And, when I look at this happening publicly, I know that those closeted kids could be seeing it too. If it’s harmful for those kids to see athletes say anti-LGBT things, how isn’t it harmful for them to see prominent out people teasing Schock for his pants?

I’m pretty sure gay kids who are being bullied aren’t looking to Aaron Schock and his 100% anti-gay voting record for validation. Nor do they take comfort from those who would compare their plight of being beaten up in school to a man who jets around the world and dines at the White House, while relegating them to second-class citizenship.

aaron-schock-pool-shirtlessYou really have to stretch the truth to portray the deputy whip of the Republican majority in the United States House of Representatives as some kind of defenseless victim. One hopes that there’s a slight difference in the emotional maturity and vulnerability of a closeted gay 15 year old living in Alabama and a 32 year old sitting member of Congress.  One expects the congressman to have thicker skin, especially when that member of Congress has chosen to live in the public eye with a zero percent voting record on gay civil rights issues.

But even if one were to buy the strained comparison between mocking the sexual orientation of a 15 year old child and exposing the hypocrisy of a 32 year old politician, let’s consider the relative culpability of the two.  A 15 year old has no choice in attending high school, and shouldn’t be put in a position of fearing such attendance as, among other reasons, it’s considered a societal good that children be educated.  We also don’t tend to endorse the notion that children should be beaten up, either mentally or physically. Children are considered our most vulnerable citizens, and they need and deserve our protection.

As for members of Congress? Not so much.

aaron-schock-white-house-clothesBut there’s a larger issue of culpability as concerns the anti-gay gay politician.  If a congressman is so ashamed of being gay, and so ashamed of anyone finding out that he’s gay, that he’s psychologically damaged by the thought of someone poking fun at his awfully-gay pants, then perhaps running for national office as a member of a party that officially detests gays, and then once in office taking a 100% anti-gay stance on the issues, which only makes you even more of a target, isn’t the smartest career move.

In other words, maybe, just maybe, anti-gay gays should assume a little of that “responsibility” for their own actions, and the consequences thereof, that their party (usually Republican) always likes lecturing the rest of us about.

Maybe, just maybe, the pickle that Aaron Schock find himself in isn’t the fault of his victims, but rather himself.

(I’m told that in order to better see my Facebook posts in your feed, you need to “follow” me.)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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