Aaron Schock, the former Republican congressman, comes out as gay

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Aaron Schock, the ex-congressman and former rising star in the Republican Party, announced Thursday that he is gay and expressed remorse for voting against gay marriage when he held his seat.

Schock resigned from Congress in 2015 amid scrutiny of his spending. He was indicted a year later on charges that accused him of illegally dipping into campaign and government coffers to subsidize a lavish lifestyle. But all charges were dropped in 2019 amid criticism of how prosecutors handled the case.

Schock began his post by writing, “I am gay.”

He wrote about growing up in a deeply religious family on a farm in Minnesota. He said his church there was rigid and considered watching television to be "sinfully idle."

Schock recalled his time in Congress and being the youngest member (27) back in 2009. He mentioned rumors about his sexuality even back then. He wrote that he was single at the time and that people would comment on how he dressed and his "preoccupation with physical fitness."

He was a prolific Republican fundraiser and garnered national attention after appearing on the cover of Men's Health showing off his six-pack abs. He successfully marketed himself during six years in Congress as an unwavering fiscal conservative.

He wrote that he was committed to his conservative district, but worried that coming out as gay would not fly with his constituents.

"I put my ambition over the truth, which not only hurt me, but others as well," he wrote. He said that he would like to think that he’d figure out how to “sort all this out,” but he was undercut by the spending scrutiny.

Schock confirmed the posts’ authenticity in a text message to the Journal Star in Peoria, the heart of the congressional district he represented for six years.

Schock, 38, said he knew he could expect sharp criticism from the community to which he said he now wanted to belong.  He noted that Barack Obama once held a similar position.

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"Where was I, they will ask, when I was in a position to help advance issues important to gay Americans?" his post read.

The Associated Press contributed to this report