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Op-ed: Don't Mention Aaron Schock's Belt Ever Again

Op-ed: Don't Mention Aaron Schock's Belt Ever Again


Aaron Schock's rise and fall shows that even gay people still cling to gay stereotypes.

I don't ordinarily like to revel in the suffering of others, but it's hard not to feel a little schadenfreude at the downfall of Illinois congressman Aaron Schock. After all, he's done a lot of harm to LGBTs, from opposing marriage equality to resisting open military service to voting against hate crime protections.

The only disappointment is that he's leaving office over a dull financial scandal rather than something more salacious. As I explain in the video below, it's a lot more fun to fixate on lurid gay rumors than the minutia of campaign financing and government reimbursement policies.

I don't know whether Schock is gay or straight (though plenty of other people claim to). With his gym-perfect chest, meticulous wardrobe, and taste in period dramas, he certainly conforms to a certain expectation -- but that's far from confirmation. Commenters on blogs like Towleroad and JoeMyGod went beserk over Schock's teal belt, like it was part of a new hankie code. And Barney Frank concluded that, "I don't know a lot of straight guys who go to the gym and parade around with their shirts off."

Then there were the ugly comments on gay blogs after his resignation was announced. Here's a sampling: "He does like spending time in the showers... after his workouts." "He is going to get a chance to perfect his bottom skills very soon." "Bite the pillow."

But while plenty of gay men look, act, and sound just like Aaron Schock, plenty of others don't. As tempting as it might be to draw conclusions about Schock, the most that anyone can prove is that he fits a stereotype. It's unfair to hold LGBTs to that stereotype, and it's unfair to hold Schock to it as well.

Whether he's gay or straight, what's pertinent is that Schock used his position of power to make life worse for LGBT people. The policies he supports preserves the closet that still too many Americans are afraid to leave because we're discriminated against. When politicians, gay or straight, oppose equality, they perpetuate a homophobic world that makes life worse for us all.

Now that he can't harm us anymore, I don't need to know anything else about Schock; he could carry on an affair with Betty White for all I care.

Whatever harm this ex-politician caused to gay Americans is not being made better by the petty name-calling that's ensued since his resignation, or the incessant debate over who he sleeps with. When we do that, we contribute to a culture of homophobia -- just like Schock's policies did.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Matt Baume