Last week, disgraced and totally gay ex-congressman Aaron Schock decided to slip in to Los Angeles gay bar Revolver for some karaoke. Little did he know it was hosted by an outspoken drag queen named Jonnie Reinhart who quickly found out he was there and immediately felt like it was his responsibility to say or do something.
In a video posted to Facebook detailing their encounter, Reinhart says, “He’s drawn major criticism from the queer community, rightfully so, for basically being a giant hypocrite.” That is, for his long anti-gay voting record while serving as a closeted U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 18th congressional district.
“I’m not a confrontational person,” Reinhart says. “My heart started racing, and I was like, ‘Okay, what am I gonna do?’ I know a lot of people would’ve loved for me to just kick him out, throw a drink at him, call him out on the mic or just do something really big.”
Instead, Reinhart “decided to share a message through song.” So she went onstage and said, “This song is dedicated to someone who’s in the audience and it goes out to anybody who votes against gay rights.” She then performed Lily Allen’s 2009 song “F You,” a song Allen specifically addressed to antigay politicians.
Here’s Lily Allen’s “F*ck You”:
“Not a very subtle message,” Reinhart admits. “I figured he would get the message and I actually thought that he would just leave, but he didn’t.”
After Reinhart’s performance, a friend of Schock’s approached him and Reinhart decided that he should talk to Schock directly.
“Keep in mind, my blood was boiling, my heart was pounding,” Reinhart says. “So I went up and shook his hand and I explained to him why I was upset that he was there, why other people were upset that he was there, and I basically told him that he wasn’t going to be welcomed in gay spaces until he began the process of apologizing and healing the harm that his actions have caused.”
Reinhart says Schock listened and thanked him for talking to him directly. “Then he shared his experience of being publicly outed and he spoke about his family’s reaction to him being gay.”
However, Reinhart decided not to share those details in his video out of respect for the privacy of their conversation. “He’s actually no longer a public official so it feels a bit slimy for me to say everything that he told me,” Reinhart says.
“Basically he told me his family’s reaction was not positive — it was very bad,” he continues. “And he insisted that he wasn’t looking for sympathy and he said that he was working on putting out a statement.”
Reinhart says he himself was publicly outed when he was 13, so he understands how hard it is to be outed, but he adds, “It doesn’t excuse [Schock’s] behavior.”
“I believe the LGBTQ+ community should be a safe haven for people who are cast out of their families, but when you’re a public official who has voted against gay rights, we’re not gonna welcome you with open arms until you prove that you truly stand with us.”
“I told [Schock] that he can’t have his cake and eat it too, and I told him that I’ll be waiting for his statement. He told me that he hoped that he could talk to me again,” Reinharts says. “We shook hands and that was that.”
“Now, people might think that I was too easy on him and that’s okay. I understand that people are really really angry at him and maybe would’ve had a different interaction with him, but my goal was to kind of extend an olive branch and give him a plan of action. If he steps up and actually starts fighting for the community, I will welcome him. And if not, he can f*ck off…. I believe that people can change, I believe people can do better but only if they put in the work and if they want to.”
Reinhart says he feels like a lot of people spend time being negative online, but it becomes much harder to effectively communicate how you’re feeling when you’re face-to-face with someone. “I hope I can inspire you guys to have these difficult conversations,” Reinhart says, “and I believe you can have a respectful conversation with somebody while still telling them that they have f*cked up and they need to do better.”
So… we’ll all be waiting for Schock’s grand coming out statement and come-to-Jesus apology to our community then? It’s a nice thought, but perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath.
Here is Reinhart’s video detailing his confrontation with Schock.
On Tuesday night, I had a conversation with Aaron Schock.
Posted by Jonnie Reinhart on Thursday, September 5, 2019