opinion

Here’s a radical idea… What if we treated Aaron Schock with kindness?

Aaron Schock, corruption, gay
(image via MSNBC screenshot)

A few days ago, former Congressman Aarons Schock, wrote a letter to the world “coming out.” Before this day of truth, Schock was known for his opposition to marriage equality. In April 2010, he said “I do not support gay marriage; I believe in the definition of marriage being between one man and one woman.” Schock was praised among his peers as one of the “most conservative” voting records in Congress by the American Family Association.

Then in 2015, Schock came under fire as he was accused of lavish spending. He was ultimately indicted on 24 counts of corruption, wire fraud, and theft of government funds. On March 6, 2019, all of the charges against him were dismissed. A year following his acquittal, he came out.

For the past few days, there has been an incredible amount of hate-filled rhetoric about Schock’s truth laid bare. Comments referenced how he deserves rejection, pain, and heartache, and wishing his forever loneliness. But while Schock’s past will forever be etched in history as a detriment to the LGBTQ community, his future is yet to be written.

What Aaron Schock lost on March 5, 2020, was not so different than what so many in the LGBTQ community experience throughout their lives: familial rejection, negative stereotypical statements, and a damned career. This once Republican Prince had officially fallen. It brought him far away from the party doctrine he once devoutly protected. It was a betrayal of his accolades of conservatism, but it was real.

No Schock did not explicitly say, “I am sorry.” Nor did he communicate the regret of his opposition in a way that the people wanted. He did not relay his sentiments as most would have preferred, but he did one of the hardest things any member of the LGBTQ community has ever done. He came out. He said the words, “I am gay.”

For the first time in his life, Schock has experienced the persecution that he authored all those years ago while he was in Congress. Much of the LGBTQ community has already chosen to make him an outcast. But what if we decided to take a different approach?

What if we decided to love?

I do not propose loving him because he is pretty. I suggest loving him because, in many ways, he is not so different than you and me. Our community has enough hatred.

Yes, Schock chose political success over the LGBTQ community, and it cost him dearly. He must now live with the decisions he made in his previous life and start a new. But, like every LGBTQ member who comes out, he is reborn. He is a new person. He has quit hiding in the shadows and accepted who he is.

Rather than prosecute Schock for past decisions made years ago, let us give him hope for better decisions made in the future. Let us give him a chance to experience acceptance for who he is and not for who he was. Let our community, the community of love, be the open door to a new life.

Michael Aycox is a former United States House of Representatives candidate (MS03), United States Navy Veteran, and advocate for change. He holds an MA in Strategic Communication and Campaign Management. Founder of One Mississippi, an organization whose purpose is to break down divisiveness and advocate for those whose voices have been silenced.