James Kirchick’s recent post on THE DAILY BEAST, “Hey Gays, Leave Aaron Schock Alone,” is part brilliance and part a sad expose of gaydom’s mysterious psyche. [http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/19/hey-gays-leave-schock-alone.html]
The author’s premise is that, for people who are gay to gloat over the downfall of a young Republican Congressman caught up in a whisper campaign about his sexual orientation is, well, tawdry. And, he is right.
Having survived the AIDS wars of the 80’s and 90’s in Los Angeles, we were always faced with the dilemma of outing people whose acts professionally, politically and personally led to miserable episodes of passing. There were elites of the church who would not bury their parishioners, conservative politicians who stirred up fear, TV and radio personalities who made careers off of hurt and hate, and even liberals who chaired Congressional committees representing populations with the highest numbers of AIDS deaths who were quiet to the emerging scourge on the Gay Community.
Perhaps the most vivid examination for outing or not outing Schock, can be a look back at another official, former Congressman Barney Frank, whose true story hints of a different tale than the one Frank now explores in a book about himself. No one denies that Frank has been good for “Team Liberal” but the accolades he has won for his gayness over the years deny that Frank’s coming out was forced by the very kind of tawdriness we are discussing. In 1985, Frank’s hidden relationship with a man of the night was the whisper talk of Washington. The details are not important but two years later in 1987, Frank decided to come out of the closet and take to the road to accept awards from adoring LBGT throngs who saw the Congressman as a hero. In California during a 1988 Congressional race where I was pointing out that the liberal incumbent who had powerful committee assignment failed to create measures to fund AIDS programs for one of the most impacted Congressional districts, Frank flew in to endorse the incumbent. Now in 2015, after settling nicely in to his gayness, Frank says we should out Schock.
So, what is all of this really about? The maturing of the gay community is on a timeline that is related to the comfort of our life’s acceptance. Barney Frank is no more wrong than Aaron Schock, if he indeed does come out later in life. Everyone is on a collision course with truth and destiny. Those who sit on the sidelines and mock others need to be cautious. We all see late bloomers whose minds say 20 and bodies act 50. One is trying to catch up with the other and in the process sometimes there is a need to step on others, who might just represent our former hidden self. Where in our past did it feel so bad that we now need to throw fuel on a burning fire as we revel in our true identity?
I don’t really care if Schock is Gay. I do care that in this day and age we have not broken the cycle of fear and hatred about gayness. I don't care that some gays need to eat their own or rewrite history in order to make them feel whole. That issue is about insecurity and not gayness. I do care that we understand and accept that the trajectory of becoming oneself, whoever we are, is sometimes a difficult and lonely process, made all the more testy by an aggressive, opinionated and ideological society. And, please, being Gay, Jew, Black, or any of a hundred other minorities doesn't make us all the same. I know it would be tidier if Mr. Schock came out and we could reward him like Mr. Frank, who has a rather odd notion of this topic. “When you are in public office and you vote opposite to the way you live your life, no I don’t think you have privacy,” Frank said. “Anyone who is gay and votes in an anti-gay fashion has, it seems to me, lost their right to privacy, because it’s been converted to a right to hypocrisy.”
What an interesting take on liberty, privacy and freedom. Hypocrisy is the antecedent to peaceful living. What would we have if there were a litmus test for hypocrisy in Congress? Just saying.