GOP Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois, the subject of persistent gay rumors since he took office in 2009, said on Thursday that questions about his sexual orientation and how it might relate to his antigay voting record and positions are “inappropriate and ridiculous” and not “worthy of further response.” He also stated, “I’ve said that before,” when asked if he is confirming that he is not gay, and added, “You can look it up.”
Schock had in fact stated to Details magazine in 2009 that he is not gay, in a lengthy piece which noted that he is unmarried and had been the subject of rumors as far back as 2004, when he was asked the question by a Chicago newspaper.
The rumors, however, have only surfaced again and again since 2009, such as when Schock wore a flamboyant outfit -- which included white jeans, a hot pink gingham shirt and a teal belt -- to the White House picnic in June of 2010, immediately reigniting widespread Internet speculation and discussion about his sexual orientation. (After the online frenzy, Schock tweeted that he had “burned the belt.”)
The rumors blew up again when Schock posed shirtless on the cover of Men’s Health in May of 2011, showing off his well-defined abs, as well as being photographed in various poses inside the magazine, promoting health and fitness. And it didn’t help quell the rumors when, last week in Tampa, Fla., while he was attending the Republican National Convention, TMZ descended upon Schock as he was walking through the gay neighborhood of the city, complete with rainbow flags in the background as well as stores selling skimpy men’s underwear and what some have said is a local gay bathhouse.
TMZ.com reported that Schock was exiting a Chuck Todd-sponsored event for youth when its interviewer caught up with Schock to ask if he had fashion advice for fit and trim Paul Ryan, who has been criticized by style experts for wearing suits that are too baggy. “I think Paul's in great shape,” Schock told TMZ. “I think a little bit of leaner attire to help accentuate that physique he works so hard to, you know, maintain.”
Asked on the floor of the RNC in an interview for my SiriusXM OutQ radio program to respond to those who’ve believed that Schock is gay and also view his vote against “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal as a vote against members of his own group, Schock responded, “Those questions are completely ridiculous and inappropriate.” He added, when asked if he is confirming that he is not gay, “I’ve said that before and I don’t think it’s worthy of further response. I think you can look it up.” Schock then walked off, abruptly ending the interview.
On why he voted against DADT repeal, Schock said: “I took the advice of military experts that came before Congress. I think that’s why you have John McCain and others who have a military background. Adam Kinzinger is a close personal friend of mine who’s an active duty member of Congress [in the district] next door to me and so I think that’s why you saw the consistency.”
In an interview with Buzzfeed’s Chris Geidner at “Newt University” in Tampa during the RNC, Schock, who has said he is opposed to gay marriage, also stood by his strong criticism of President Obama and the Department of Justice for not defending the Defense of Marriage Act in federal court. But he hedged on support for a federal marriage amendment that would ban states from allowing gays and lesbians to marry, saying, “I haven’t really thought too much about it.”
Listen to the full interview:
For other public figures who have faced gay rumors, view the slideshow below: