AmericablogAfter I finished my Aaron Schock post this morning, I went over to John Aravosis’s Americablog, to get John’s twitter account, and I saw he had a new post up about the Aaron Schock outing. As I read it, I got to thinking more deeply about something I had written myself. I know what I said, but now I was beginning to question why, if I was right with my language choice. Is outing, or can outing be a form of bullying?

Here is what I said:

Hod and Aravosis may be flushing out a closet case which may turn out to be a good thing, or it may turn out to be little more than bullying. Time will tell. Either way, real journalism is absent from this story so far.

And here, John was responding to in his blog post to Chris Geidner on Buzzfeed:

Secondly, a group of several gay journalists and activists on Twitter — including Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, John Aravosis, and Josh Barro — have decided that mocking Schock for exhibiting stereotypically gay attributes, like caring about his clothes and body, or following Daley on Instagram is the way of dealing with him. This is the same sort of behavior that the same people have said is harmful when it happens to closeted LGBT kids in schools. And, when I look at this happening publicly, I know that those closeted kids could be seeing it too. If it’s harmful for those kids to see athletes say anti-LGBT things, how isn’t it harmful for them to see prominent out people teasing Schock for his pants?

So is the way that Aravosis and others are acting a form of bullying?

Bullying is, in my opinion a process where a person or persons uses their power over another in a way to shame or physiologically harm thew other person, or that power over can be physical and about physical intimidation and harm. In this regards, it isn’t so much what is being said, but how it is being said that designates this behavior as bullying. True, one can argue that Aravosis et al have no power over Schock. But in a way they really do. Immediately in reaction, Schock closed down his Instagram, and what was public got private really quickly. If Schock is this closeted gay man, these very out and proud men have a lot of power over him. Here is another definition of bullying. So, yes, I agree what Aravosis did is a form of bullying.

But Aravosis doesn’t get it- doesn’t see his behavior that way. How many times has the bully said they didn’t mean anything, that it was just in fun, and was joking around?

  I did it in a punny way, poking fun at his rather-gay Instagram posts, while others were more direct.

I don’t mean to slam Aravosis here really. He, you and me- we all grew up in an atmosphere where bullying is a way of getting what we want, and certainly he could have been meaner and nastier, so as bullying goes, was it really all that bad? But Aravosis really misses Geidner’s point entirely!

I’m pretty sure gay kids who are being bullied aren’t looking to Aaron Schock and his 100% anti-gay voting record for validation. Nor do they take comfort from those who would compare their plight of being beaten up in school to a man who jets around the world and dines at the White House, while relegating them to second-class citizenship.

If I were to paraphrase Geidner in my own words, he is saying that it sends a troubling message to those kids who are bullied so, to see grown up, smart and respected gay men, like Aravosis being the bullies. It suggests that guess what, it really doesn’t get better, unless by better you mean that you can find someone to bully yourself.

I do agree with Aravosis, Schock is an adult and to get to where he is, he has to have a pretty tick skin. In other words, he can take it, but do the ends justify the means? That’s a bottom line question.

And I totally agree with Aravosis when he describes the damage a closeted anti-gay voting gay person can cause:

But there’s another offense, possibly far worse.  Many anti-gay gays in politics are out to their congressional colleagues – sometimes directly, though oftentimes with a nudge and wink.  By voting anti-gay, gay members of Congress send a message that it’s fine to be and vote anti-gay – after all, even the gay guy does it.

In this issue the real question is, what is the bottom line, and what does Itay Hod and Aravosis want out of this? Geidner points out as I did, that all that has happened so far is some gossip and rumor spreading. If the guy is gay and voting so anti-gay, let’s see some real journalism!

Here’s what is most troubling for me. Aravosis introduces the word “victim” into this dialogue. I can’t find it anywhere in the BuzzFeed post at all.

That hasn’t stopped a number of gays from embracing their own version of the Stockholm Syndrome, in which the bully becomes the victim, and the actual victim… well, they appear to not give too much thought to the actual victim.

If Schock is gay and voting anti-gay, that is pretty bad, but I’m not sure that makes him a bully, it just makes him a really sad miserable person that we need to get out of there. This victim/bully dichotomy  is the problem in a nutshell, when the realily is that bullying as a dynamic is hurtful all around. To see a duality, as if one is a victim and one is the bully is a shallow perception. Bullying is a matter of a power dynamic and not a descriptor of one or another.

Schock’s constant anti-LGBT voting record harms LGBTQ persons. If he is gay, it is hypocrisy and should be called out, and truly outed, but doing it with facts and proof, rather than hearsay and belittling jokes. Really calling him out is holding him accountable, and there is no part of that which is bullying. But mentioning hearsay, and calling someones’s instagram “gay,” well that may be bullying.

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