Several days ago, Instinct reported on a post by a social media ‘influencer,’ Jeremy Cormier, that pictured himself with his friend/“beach bro,” former Republican Congressman Aaron Schock.
As many know by now, Schock resigned from office in 2015 amid scandal regarding allegations of misusing campaign funds for personal use.
While in office, the Illinois Republican, who was long-rumored to be in the closet, voted against LGBTQ rights such as supporting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and voting against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Schock disappeared from the public eye for some time but resurfaced this spring hanging out with several shirtless gay men at the Coachella Music Festival. Photos and video also came to light showing Schock making out with a young man while working his hands down the guy’s pants.
There’s more, but you get the gist.
Last week, Cormier a photo of the two on the beach with their impressive abs on full display, and the ‘influencer’ made a point to tag Schock (apparently they are “beach bros”) in the post.
Now, considering Cormier spends a great deal of time on social media (at least his abs do), he had to know there would be a response about his newly-announced “beach bro.”
And there most definitely were.
Comments on that post and subsequent posts asked Cormier his thoughts on Schock’s anti-LGBTQ voting record and how, as a proud gay, he could consort with the former lawmaker.
Instinct reached out to Cormier at the time via the email address shown in his Instagram account to ask his “side” of the story. To date, we haven’t received a reply.
Cormier has now responded via his Instagram account.
In the new post, he acknowledges the “attention” the post received and the questions raised by some followers.
First up, he makes a point to clear the about the label of ‘influencer,’ saying he never claimed that title. But he assures readers that “if he were to try and influence anyone it would be to do something good.”
Cormier shares that he and Mr. Schock became friends at some point this year, but stresses he has never “shared or supported” the former congressman’s views he ‘espoused’ while in office.
The Instagrammer adds that to know Schock “is to know someone who’s viewpoint has grown and changed significantly in the last decade.”
Cormier contends that in order to “affect change open communication among those with differing views is essential.”
“The support our community enjoys can only grow when we reach out to those who don’t share our viewpoint,” he adds.
This is where I’ll point out (again) that here at Instinct we did reach out to Mr. Cormier and received no response. Not exactly the ‘open communication’ he seems to be espousing.
Turning the corner (or perhaps deflecting the issue at hand), Cormier then asks readers to donate to The Victory Fund, which works to help elect openly LGBTQ candidates to public office. He shares that he has already made a $500 donation himself.
Cormier goes on to say that in the days since he posted his photo tagging Schock, he has “experienced bullying and personal hatred” that he wouldn’t wish on anyone.
“That behavior can never be justified even when it’s directed toward those who don’t support us,” he adds. Cormier continues saying he encourages “everyone to fight against hatred and bullying wherever it exists.”
And in that spirit, he also announces he’s made a donation to The Trevor Project, the leading national organization that helps young LGBTQ people in crisis and offers counseling for those considering suicide.
Cormier draws his statement to a close stating he is not “perfect.”
“I am a normal, flawed individual and have never claimed otherwise,” says Cormier. “But what I do know is hate is toxic and it perpetuates – it is good for no one. I recognize this is only a small effort but let’s do something good together.”
Now, I appreciate the tenor and tone of the post.
But I feel Cormier misses both the point and an opportunity here. And it feels a bit like he’s playing the victim card here.
After blithely posting a photo with someone who literally worked AGAINST the good of the LGBTQ community, with a caption of ‘beach bros,’ Cormier seems taken aback that anyone noticed or had a reaction.
Imagine if some other white, abs-centric, young-ish, openly gay person shared a shirtless pic with, say, Sen. Ted Cruz, Vice President Mike Pence (or any other similar anti-LGBTQ elected official) and captioned the photo, “Beach bros.”
Do you think folks would have questions?
In one sentence Cormier shares that Schock has “grown and changed significantly.” But neither he nor Schock have addressed how he has changed or what he’s learned since his days of voting to prohibit openly gay men and women to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
The intrepid Instagrammer says ‘open communication’ is key to affect change. Great, but Cormier doesn’t say if HE has had conversations to “affect change” with the former congressman. According to this post, that seems to be his stated goal in friending Schock.
I realize it’s not Cormier’s job or responsibility to speak for Schock. But if you’re going to vouch for someone’s character growth – talk about it.
It is great to bring up The Victory Fund and The Trevor Project. Seriously terrific organizations, I agree. And thanks for the donations.
I will note that scanning through some 345 posts on Instagram over six years, with countless shirtless photos, pics taken in France, Italy and the Hamptons, plus a meet-and-greet moment with Britney Spears (reported to cost $2,500), this appears to be the first mention of either organization.
And that’s perfectly fine. But to bring them into this conversation at this time appears like someone looking for cover.
After months of LGBTQ media noting these episodes and wondering, “Has he changed? Did he have some sort of epiphany?,” Schock remains silent.
For Schock’s part, he can easily sit down with a member of the LGBTQ media and openly discuss the journey to ‘here.’
Everyone comes out in their own time. Absolutely.
But folks don’t get to vote against their own marginalized community, then enjoy the benefits of a community that fought for its own rights while simultaneously playing the victim.
In a single interview, Schock can clear the air.
Hey, Aaron – call me. I promise to quote you in full. No ‘out-of-context’ action whatsoever.
Regarding Cormier, I understand he would feel the need to say ’something’ about the controversial post.
And now, he has.
The opinions expressed here represent those of the writer and not of Instinct Magazine nor any of its contributors.