Those in the LGBTQ community have seen this decade go from Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell restricting openly homosexual Americans from military service to a period where the sky is the limit for what the LGBTQ community can do with their lives. In watching the acceptance of LGBTQ people rapidly grow over the course of my young life, I’ve grown increasingly optimistic about the role our fellow LGBTQ citizens will play in shaping our country’s future. While major strides have been made in all aspects of society in accepting and integrating the LGBTQ community, I’ve become fearful of what our current toxic political environment means for the future improvement in LGBTQ rights around the country.
One of the main causes for concern is the vicious online attack directed toward former congressman Aaron Schock — who’s been the victim of gay rumors since the beginning of his tenure in Congress in 2009 — from those in the LGBTQ community over his past voting record on LGBTQ rights and his right-wing political views. These attacks stem from a video of Schock placing his hand down the underwear of an openly gay man at the Coachella Music Festival in April of this year. This was the final straw in what was among the years-long attacks and rumors of his sexuality, all based on his eccentric attire and closeness to other gay men. Schock has consistently maintained that he isn’t gay, but seeing other members of the LGBTQ community attempt to shame him for his conduct and past political positions ishurtful not only to Schock but the entire LGBTQ community.
The attacks from the LGBTQ community boiled over into a California drag queen singing “F**k You” by Lilly Allen indirectly toward Schock while he was patronizing at the bar. For those who’ve never heard this song, it’s as catchy and cynical as its title suggests. Additionally, when asked why she decided to do that to Schock, drag queen Jonnie Reinhart said that she wanted to make “people feel comfortable…”
Whether or not Schock is gay is something that members of the LGBTQ community should understand as intimate and something that should be left for the individual to decide. Letting partisan political views take precedence over what is best for the broad and diverse community is dangerous, and if left unchecked, Aaron Schock’s difficult private life could be one of many casualties to come.
It’s no secret that the current political discourse is fraught with a lack of civility and understanding of others. People can see the blusters that come from online social media platforms when one can no longer take a position on an issue without being attacked by an opposing partisan. The LGBTQ community must not let this toxic environment get in the way of continuing the work that so many of predecessors fought hard to achieve.
This means respecting and accepting fellow members who may have differing opinions on politics and lifestyle. More vitally, this means showing compassion to those in and outside of the community. At the end of the day, if the fight is for equality in the community, the fight should be in the LGBTQ community, whether one agrees with them or not. This will ensure that progress continues and that the love and compassion the community has been known for will be there for future generations to enjoy and seek comfort in. If the community fails, it’s likely that equality will become more exclusive and difficult to achieve.
Whether one agrees with Schock’s political record on LGBTQ rights or not, what’s important is that no matter what others do or think, members of the LGBTQ community must accept those who they may not agree with if they’re to continue the remarkable progress toward equality.
Andrey Chun is a junior International Affairs and Economics double major. Contact Andrey at email@example.com.