The rumors that Aaron Schock, a young, handsome Republican congressman from Illinois who has a consistently anti-gay voting record, is gay himself has spurred debate over whether it’s appropriate to out the lawmaker.
The rumors, which have swirled online for years, picked up steam earlier in the month, when journalist Itay Hod posted on Facebook that a friend of his saw his roommate in the shower with Schock. Hod didn’t quite name the congressman, but the end of the message included a link to an americablog.com post titled “The 7 gayest Aaron Shock Instagram posts of 2013.” Schock quickly changed his Instagram account to private.
Hod wrote, “here's a hypothetical: what if you know a certain GOP congressman, let's just say from Illinois, is gay... and you know this because one of your friends, a journalist for a reputable network, told you in no uncertain terms that he caught that GOP congressman and his male roommate in the shower ... together. now they could have been good friends just trying to conserve water. but there's more. what if this congressman has also been caught by tmz cameras trolling gay bars. now what if you know that this very same guy, the darling of the gop, has also voted against repeal of don’t ask don’t tell, opposed the repeal of DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act], is against gay marriage; and for the federal marriage amendment, which would add language to the us constitution banning gay marriage and would likely strike down every gay rights law and ordinance in the country?”
“We've created a situation where even though news organizations know this guy is gay, they can't report it because he hasn't said so on twitter,” Hod said. “We've been so effective at convincing everyone that outing people is a crime against humanity, that we've made it impossible for any network or news organization to talk about this ‘hypothetical’ gay republican congressman and his hypocritical vote against gay rights. they won't touch it for fear of retribution from GLAAD or HRC. [in fact when my friend's network interviewed said hypothetical republican, he talked about wanting to find a nice woman to marry... and the network aired it... knowing it was a lie...]”
Hod's claim was soon all over the Internet but remained beyond big media until Wednesday. Then The New York Times reported on it, calling it “the world’s most obvious bling item.” But the Times piece artfully managed not to name Schock.
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While Hod’s Facebook post stirred controversy, he told the Times he doesn’t regret it. The post is still up on Hod’s page as of Thursday afternoon.
“If I don’t get a job because of the fact that I asked this question, it’s not a job I’m supposed to have,” said Hod, a former CBS correspondent. He said he believed the post was worthwhile because “the conversation has started.”
The rumors were also posted on americablog.com, although the supposed evidence of Schock being gay seemed to rest on his wardrobe choices and muscular body. Schock has posed shirtless for fitness magazines.
“Aaron Schock is pretty much bad on anything and everything dealing with the civil rights of gay people,” wrote Americablog editor John Aravosis. “Which would be a rather large hypocrisy if it turned out that Aaron Schock himself were gay.”