I agree with you on many of the points you made in your Washington Post piece about Aaron Schock and I applaud you for reaching out to anyone with actual information that could turn his history of pro-bigotry voting into a history of hypocrisy.
But can you do me a favor? Can you please not refer to coming out as “an intensely personal journey that involves stages of self-discovery and self-acceptance” as if it is an inherent part of being gay? It is not. The journey you refer to is about the shedding of shame. And we are not born with shame, we are taught it.
If we are going to talk about that journey, however, then we need to discuss its origins. It is rooted in anti-LGBT votes like the ones Rep. Aaron Shock has made every single time he has had the chance. It comes from every political leader, religious leader, sports figure and person who speaks and spreads hate. If we are going to talk about the journey, then we need to understand that it is an unnecessary torture and lay the blame for it at the feet of every person who helps to create it. Gay or not, one of those people is Rep. Schock. Although if he is gay, it’s a sad, sad story of a shame so powerful that it allowed him to repeatedly make decisions harmful to both himself and millions of others like him.
I look at my father and my brother, the two most intimate relationships I have with straight men, and try to find their journey. There is none. No journey to acceptance. No journey to wholeness. No struggle to unlearn shame. They woke up one morning to discover that girls were pretty awesome. And that was that. Never once did it occur to them ~ not in their wildest dreams ~ to hide those feelings. Never once did they see boundaries suddenly springing up, separating them from their wants and dreams. Never once did it occur to them that this energy that now radiated from their heads, their hearts and from between their legs was bad, evil, immoral, unnatural or disgusting. Shame? Ha! They, like all straight men, learned quite the opposite.
May there one day be no journey. No torture. No self-hatred that leads to self-discovery that leads, finally, hopefully, to self-acceptance. May we create a world where every little gay boy feels no compunction, and receives no repercussions, about telling the object of his affection that he has a crush on him. May we create a world where every little lesbian girl can hang a poster of her starlet crush over her bed without understanding that that impulse must be squashed. And may our trans brothers and sisters feel free to express themselves in whatever way is natural for them, without question and without fear. That is what we should be working towards. Eradicating the journey completely. Not treating it as unchangeable fact.
Roger I. Rosen