Rep. Aaron Schock poses for Men's Health magazine in 2011. (Courtesy Men's Health)
Rep. Aaron Schock poses for Men’s Health magazine in 2011. (Courtesy Men’s Health)

That Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) is the focus of gay rumors is no shock. He is young, single, buff and very easy on the eyes. And he is unbelievably stylish. Our first of three meetings since his 2008 election to Congress started with a 10-minute conversation about shoes. No wonder persistent gossip that Schock is closeted has shadowed him since his arrival in Washington.

We’re talking about the sexuality of the congressman from Peoria because Itay Hod, a journalist who once worked for CBS News and Logo, declared in a Facebook posting on Friday that he was fed up with the silence. Listing a series of situations he called “hypothetical” but that were all situations involving Schock, Hod asked, “[D]oesn’t the media have an OBLIGATION to expose his hypocrisy?”

Schock has consistently gone against measures supported by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. He has supported an amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. He opposed President Obama’s 2011 decision to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) against court challenge. Schock voted against the 2010 repeal of the ban on gay men and lesbians serving openly in the armed forces. And he voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Schock’s voting record is so anti-gay that he earned a zero percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization.

Given all that, Hod’s question about a media obligation to expose Schock’s hypocrisy is not an unreasonable one. All that’s required is for Schock to be gay. We can listen to all the rumors we want, revel in the stories of that “friend” or “friend of a friend” who has eyewitness proof of gay dalliances, even have our educated hunches, but until someone comes forward with proof that Schock is gay, we’re just talking among ourselves.

Of course, if Schock were gay I would urge him to come out. The closet is a terrible place. It’s a prison that forces you to lock up your true self or compromise yourself in regretable ways. And it’s a thief that robs you of the life you are meant to lead and the person you are meant to lead it with. But as you know from my defense of former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman when he came out of the closet in 2010 and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) when he reversed his position on same-sex marriage last year after his son came out to him, I’m very sympathetic to the coming out process.

There is no timetable to coming out. There is no “right time” or “perfect time.” It is an intensely personal journey that involves stages of self-discovery and self-acceptance before one is ready to share his or her truth with friends, family, colleagues and, in this case, constituents.

So, those self-righteous folks who believe Schock is gay and is being hypocritical by voting against LGBT interests should come forward with actual, first-hand proof that he has a closet from which to emerge. If you have it, e-mail me at capehartj@washpost.com. Or reach out to another member of the press. Until then, it’s all gossip.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.