Even militant conservative Phyllis Schlafly admits she’s a proud mom who loves her gay son
By DANIEL KUSNER | May 11, 2001
Don’t expect to find Phyllis Schlafly, 76, bearing her soul at a PFLAG rally.
The ultraconservative pro-life activist launched the Stop-ERA crusade in the ’70s and leads The Eagle Forum, a volunteer organization that favors punishing gay sex with imprisonment.
But ever since her eldest son, John Schlafly, a lawyer, was publicly outed in 1992, Phyllis has been an easy target for gays to ridicule.
Countless others would make a better Mother’s Day spokesperson for parents of gay children. But Phyllis Schlafly stands out as someone who’s probably had to strongly re-examine the bond between a mom and her queer kid.
In interviews with gay media, Schlafly remains an even-tempered, albeit tight-lipped subject.
Her prime agenda on the topic of motherhood mostly deals with her fierce advocacy for breastfeeding and disposable diapers.
“Paper diapers are the greatest invention that ever happened,” she beams.
Beneath her stridently anti-gay Radical Right exterior lies the undeniably warm heart of a mom with six kids and grandmother of 14 who loves her gay son no matter what.
“There’s a point when you have to let your children live their own lives when they become adults,” Schlafly says during a phone interview from the Schlafly’s St. Louis home.
And when it comes to controversies and disappointments, Schlafly says a mother’s love should overcome those difficulties.
“I have a close friend whose son was bounced from the Navy for drug use. And the Navy is real tough on drugs. This was a terrible affront to her husband, who had had a fine Navy career. And the Navy was so important in his life,” Schlafly explains.
“But she was going to tell the son never to come home again. And I told my friend, ‘No. No. You welcome him home.’ And she’s thanked me 1,000 times for that. And her son has turned out to be a very fine young man.”
According to Schlafly, being a strong role model is the most important thing a parent can do when their children have reached adulthood.
She admits the Schlaflys have the same problems other families experience.
“But we have no illegal drug use. Nobody smokes. We don’t have any divorce. We don’t have illegitimate pregnancies. And we’re workaholics,” Schlafly lists.
However, there’s at least one surprise that’s come out of the closet.
And when John Schlafly was outed, it was mostly done to take Phyllis down a few pegs.
“I didn’t have any other problem — other than the media asking nosy questions. And, of course, it was all done to embarrass me,” she explains. “This is the alliance of the gays and the abortionists, who really have nothing in common except a political alliance. So they created this national media controversy.”
“The harassment of the media is a terrible annoyance,” Schlafly continues. “They invited me on shows who would not otherwise have invited me. Because that’s all they wanted to talk about. And it was all done to embarrass me. I mean, my son doesn’t have any enemies.”
“It just made a big national news story that went on for weeks — about something that wasn’t anybody’s business,” the mom continues. “He was deliberately outed by somebody who went around bragging that he didn’t believe in outing.”
Did her son being gay change anything between them?
“No. He’s a wonderful young man. He’s my first born. And I love him,” she assures.
Was she ever afraid for her son being a member of the gay community?
“No. I’m not a person who’s afraid of things,” she quickly answers.
Did the fact that her son is gay ever challenge her political ideology?
“No. Not really. Actually, he’s very supportive of practically all of my work. He believes in the traditional family and most of the things I work for. We’re just a private family. And we don’t air all our personal problems out for the public. Now, I think that’s about enough of me and my son. Let’s finish this topic,” she orders.
But she did give one last piece of advice to the gay community for this Mother’s Day.
“I hope all the gays and lesbians love their mother and respect her,” she says.
And for what it’s worth, Mrs. Schlafly, most of the gay community probably wishes you a Happy Mother’s Day.
AGGIELAND & AIDS
On Nov. 19, 1987, Schlafly spoke in College Station to lecture — clip from Texas A&M’s newspaper, The Battalion.
When you look in the audience that is in the public schools, it’s a very different audience from what we have here tonight,” Schlafly said.
“In the public schools in this country, we have minor children who are pretty much a captive audience, and it seems that over the last few years, two movements have developed,” she said.
“One point of view is that whoever has control over the school establishment can do whatever he wants to with the captive children who are at the public school,” she said.
“There is another point of view, that the child in the public school, being a minor and being a captive audience, does enjoy certain rights in that classroom that can’t be taken away,” she said.
Those rights, she said, demand that anything they are taught about acquired immune deficiency syndrome be “true, healthy, legal and constitutional.”
“There is a great effort at the present time to come into the public schools and teach what is called ‘safe sex,’ ” she said. “I would contest that the way that is taught today does not meet the four criteria.
“In fact, there is only one teaching that meets all those four tasks, and that is the teaching in regard to sex, that we should have and should promote sexual abstinence before marriage.”
Schlafly’s remarks met with applause, mainly from older members of the audience of more than 250, and hissing from others, mostly students.
PROUD OF MANCHESTER
Silence preserves their photogenic success.
Marie Claire magazine introduced Moss’ best quotes with, “She doesn’t speak very often but when she does it's amazing.”
Netflix's literary documentary “Circus of Books” names Jeff Stryker as gay erotica’s ultimate superstar.
Stryker visited Big D in the early aughts. And New Fine Arts bookstore on Mockingbird Lane promised me a meeting with him.
My thirst was unquenchable — especially since Stryker penetrated country music with his anal anthem, “Pop You in the Pooper."
Stryker's Dallas opportunity window was tighter than a virgin pooper.
When Stryker stood up to shake my hand, I said, “No matter how many times I ask to interview you, my requests are never granted."
With Jack Nicholson-like swagger, Stryker smiled, nodded and said, “That’s right.”
Polaroid froze our split-second appointment.
Stryker's elusiveness rivals J.D. Salinger.
In 2013, a podcast duo had much better luck than me.
The Rialto Report's April Hall and Laura Helen Marks did a fine job coaxing Stryker from isolation.
I chose The Cedars and named Bill's as a main attraction.
Bill (1945-2020) was a lifelong bachelor who still wasn't ready to be described as "gay" in a media article. (Also, Bill was once bashed with a baseball bat.)
Editors cut my double-entendre explanation of the "Head for Bill's" slogan.
But a tastefully queer shoutout survived.
"Dallas' best secondhand music store, Bill's moved to The Cedars in February. Legendary proprietor Bill Wisener keeps the age of vinyl alive with aisles of LPs, though the disorganization of the CD bins can turn into a time-sucking scavenger hunt. Don't look for price tags either: Just ask Bill how much. Cute guys always strike the best bargains on imports, bootlegs, ginormous posters, and vintage T-shirts."
However, the specific work-related incident dates back to 2010.
That’s when Don — a former Dallasite — was in New York.
Don was conducting a tandem jump with a female client. To put the woman’s mind at ease — about the coziness of jumping two-to-one — Don revealed that he enjoyed intimacy with men. Like his partner, Dallas businessman Bill Moore.
After that jump, a complaint was filed against Don. And the employer, Altitude Express, placed Don on suspension.
While returning to face the ultimate decision, Don recorded the exchange, which y’all can listen to on YouTube.
At first, Don’s former coworkers dodge and evade the request.
However, Don’s lawyer, Gregory Antollino, discovered a copy.
One thing’s for sure, Don’s not the drama queen in this story.
The female client looks pretty dang happy when she smiles beside Don for a group shot after her feet land safely on the ground. (By the way, it was the female client's boyfriend who complained about Don's sexual identity...)
Like Texas Lawyer magazine's brilliant Mike Maslanka, who anticipates a wonderful outcome — even during a Trump Administration.
Chad commented on the game with both his head and the microphone resting on a bed pillow.
Chad never left his bed. Instead of whining about feeling sick, Chad acted as if his mattress was a La-Z-Boy recliner.
The studio was filled with neatly stacked piles of newspapers.
Chad published Whoopsy! magazine.
Chad gracefully shifted opposing topics — like connecting Ann Coulter’s horse-face to an argument about evolution.
Over the past year, Chad and I hung together in Austin. Probably three times.
He wasn’t always bedridden.
We sweated it out while walking from Adam Reposa’s law office near the Texas Capitol over to Sarah Weddington's nearby leadership center and then downhill to the Colorado River. That's where we downed hot coffee while Chad inhaled home-rolled cigarettes.
On Sixth Street, we chowed on burgers at The Jackalope. That's where we snapped a selfie, above, as we vied for the affections of our favorite Texan, web-design goddess Beth Sams.
During the recent “Sports Karaoke” episode, one of the fellow podcasters cracked an off-the-cuff joke about the “need” for printed media. I raised an objection with the authority of a Texan defending the Bill of Rights.
Chad and I fist bumped.
When I wrote about biking through Austin, I consulted with Mr. Badass himself.
Here’s what Chad said.
During one of our recent walks, Chad expressed his sincere respect for Louis Black, founding publisher of The Austin Chronicle.
Chad and Black's SXSW festival have a storied history that's stitched into the documentary "Total Badass," which is worth watching.
Rest in power, Chad.
How did I find out?
A group of Catholics sent a press release saying they've organized a "Rosary Protest."
The group is called Tradition, Family and Property. Their website is ReturnToOrder.org.
TFP states, "Because the Drag Queen Story Time for 3 to 6 year-olds is a serious offense against God and scandalizes children."
The release continues, "Whatever happened to the time when the protection of children's innocence was a non-negotiable social norm?
Even rough men watched their language and mannerisms when children or ladies were around.
Vulgarity, bad habits and vice were concealed so as to not destroy the innocence of a child."
Well, Dallas. Look for yourselves.
Witness Jenna in super-heroine action at last year's story time at J. Eric Jonsson Library, named after the brilliant founder of Texas Instruments — a company that could see into the future.
Grauwyler Park Branch Library, 2146 Gilford St., Dallas, Texas 75235
Saturday: July 13 at 12:30 p.m.
VICE News deftly explores differences between Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn in the wake of Muhlaysia Booker murder
VICE’s immigration correspondent David Noriega visits Big D. The story begins with stomach-churning clips of Muhlaysia being savagely beaten.
Then there’s my footage.
I'm also elated with Noriega's work.
With a touch that reminds me of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," VICE's news-team explores the geographic and socio-economic separations between Dallas' "uppity" Oak Lawn gayborhood and East Oak Cliff — the location where the viral footage first emerged.
Muhlaysia's friend Meiko Hicks describes how Muhlaysia suffered from intense PTSD after the first attack. And how Big D's unspoken "no-snitch" policy mostly hovers over Dallas' Southern side.
However, the footage of Muhlaysia's casket being rapturously marched out of Cathedral of Hope last week is just ... gorgeous.
VICE ends the segment with a sharp cut. Leaving viewers wanting more. It’s unresolved — exactly like Muhlaysia's quest to seek to justice.