Congratulations on coming out, Aaron. I think I can speak for most LGBTQ people when I say that we can identify completely with the fear, loneliness, and struggle that come with speaking one’s truth.
Like you, many of us faced criticism, scorn and rejection from our families when they found out the truth about our orientation or identity. Some queer people have faced far worse than the things you describe, up to and including violence and murder.
What we cannot identify with is your becoming a U.S. Congressman and then voting against LGBTQ rights while you were in office. You didn’t just “take the position” of opposing marriage equality. You actually voted in favor of adding a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
I notice in the lengthy non-apology you posted – the words “sorry” and “apology” appear not even once – that you invoke the names of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as examples of others who opposed marriage equality at the time. Which is true, in terms of the public statements they made during the 2008 campaign.
Except unlike you, they never proposed or voted for the Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. And once they were in power, they changed their position. The Obama administration ultimately supported marriage equality and was instrumental in it being legalized by the Supreme Court.
Even if that were not the case, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are not gay. You are. As wrongheaded as their original position may have been, it didn’t make them hypocrites and traitors to the LGBTQ community. Yours did.
But wait, there’s more: in December 2010, as President Obama was working to lift the ban on gay service members in the U.S. military, you voted against the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. (I notice you omitted that issue entirely in your non-apology note.)
In fact, Aaron, your voting record against our community was so heinous that the Human Rights Campaign gave you a zero rating. Zero.
And yet, for the past several years, you have felt perfectly entitled to show up at our bars, our clubs, our events, and all the other safe queer spaces for which gay, lesbian, bi, and trans people have spent decades fighting and literally dying.
I guess you figured, “Hey, I’ve got a hot bod, so I’m sure they’ll be happy to welcome me here.”
Well, guess what? Aside from a morally bankrupt few, we’re not. You are not welcome here. Coming out does not undo or justify the harm you’ve caused us. Your sad coming-out story opens no doors.
True remorse and a sincere apology might be a first step, as would renouncing the GOP, which continues to be a haven for those who hate and repress queer people, especially in the administration of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
But it’s clear from your statement that you’re not capable of any of those things.
So no, you are not welcome here. And not that you asked for our forgiveness, but you don’t have it.
And speaking for myself, if I ever see you in one of our spaces, you can expect an ice cold drink in your pretty face.