Aaron Schock, a prominent anti-gay Republican from Illinois who resigned from Congress in 2015 after he came under fire over lavish spending, came out as gay on Thursday, The New York Times reports.
Writing in a lengthy post on his website about the challenges of growing up in a religious household, Schock said he was wrong to oppose gay marriage.
“The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in my life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person,” Schock wrote.
In his announcement, Schock described being raised in a religious household in the rural Midwest. He wrote that he memorized Bible verses and attended church services at least twice a week.
“I got older and first felt myself drawn in the direction of my natural orientation, I didn’t want to think about it,” he wrote. “I always preferred to force my thoughts in other directions, leaving a final answer about that for another day.”
He wrote that “if I were in Congress today, I would support L.G.B.T.Q. rights in every way I could” and said he did not reveal his sexuality to his constituents after he was elected to Congress. “I put my ambition over the truth,” he said, “which not only hurt me, but others as well.”
Schock was elected to Congress in 2008 and was once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. He came under criticism in 2015 for lavish spending, including a redesign of his Capitol Hill office. It included blood-red walls, a crystal chandelier and a plume of pheasant feathers, and was rumored to have been inspired by a room on “Downton Abbey.”
He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2016 on 24 counts, including wire fraud and theft of government funds. Federal prosecutors reached an agreement in March 2019 to drop the charges. Mr. Schock vowed to pay back taxes and reimburse his campaign.