by Chuck Colbert
A Washington Post columnist, who is gay, created a bit of a stir earlier this year in defending Aaron Schock, a former Illinois congressman who resigned over a controversy about his use of federal funds amidst speculation that Schock is gay.
Schock has drawn attention to himself in what may be considered a stereotypically gay manner — pink shorts, a six-pack-abs photo on the cover of Men’s Fitness magazine, and a male traveling companion (an aide), not to mention his lavish expenditure on a “Downton Abbey”-style redecoration of his congressional office. Oddly enough, Schock had an anti-gay voting record.
|Disgraced former Congressman
Writing in his “Civilities” column under the headline “Please stop pink bating Aaron Schock,” Steven Petrow wrote, “Why, then, do I react so strongly to anyone making assumptions about Schock’s sexuality based on these stereotypes? Here’s one reason: an eighth-grader named Larry King, whom I reported on years ago. His Oxnard, Calif., middle school classmates tormented him. ‘Hey, you, gay kid, you want to wear lipstick?’ one of Larry’s friends told the Los Angeles Times, recalling the taunts. Another said: ‘You’d hear, “Faggot! Hey, faggot!” That was happening in every class.’ It only got worse as Larry started to wear makeup and girls’ boots with his school uniform. Then he allegedly flirted with a classmate — who came to school one morning and fatally shot the 15-year-old twice in the head. That’s why I care — because those who are, or who are even suspected of being LGBT, are far and away the people most likely to be the victims of violent hate crimes.
“If all it takes is a pink shirt or eye makeup to start the gay innuendo, then no one is really safe. It’s bad enough when the ‘haters’ use stereotypes to justify bullying and violence against LGBT people, or even non-gay youths who simply flout gender conventions. When those winks and quips come from within our own community, what kind of message are we sending?”
But Kevin Naff, editor of the Washington Blade, would have none of it. Writing under the headline, “Shame on Wash Post for defending Schock, attacking LGBT media,” Naff wrote, “As a longtime member of the LGBT media, I reject Petrow’s inane criticism and dare him to use his access and platform to write something substantive about these issues. As a journalist, he should know better than to attack the messenger.
“Closeted public officials and public figures should have no place to hide. From Anderson Cooper to Jodie Foster to Ken Mehlman, we’ve seen the damage the closet does and the good that comes from opening the door and living an honest life. Now that he’s out of Congress and free of the Republican Party’s homophobic influences, maybe Schock will finally come out. But the public ought to have no sympathy for this fraud, who misused taxpayer and campaign donor funds to pay for a lavish lifestyle he can’t afford. He resigned only to bring an end to the congressional inquiries, which surely would have found more misdeeds. He’s not a victim and is undeserving of the Post’s and Petrow’s misplaced sympathies.”
Since Schock’s resignation on March 17, he has made no public acknowledgment of being gay.
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