Throughout her many years in politics, Phyllis Schlafly advocated against the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, sex education in public schools, same-sex marriage, and gay civil rights.
But as the show is quick to also point out, Phyllis was a complex woman. Not only did she build a very successful career on the argument that a woman’s place is in the home, her stance on gay rights was complicated by the fact that her own son was a homosexual.
The latest episodes of Mrs. America explore Phyllis’ relationship with her son and how she maintained her opposition to gay rights even with him by her side. But before you dive in to the show, here’s a quick explainer about John Schlafly, his coming out, and how he continues to hold up his mother’s legacy.
Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about Phyllis Schafly’s gay son, John F. Schlafly.
Phyllis Schafly’s son, John F. Schlafly, was forced to come out of the closet.
In September 1992, John Schlafly confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner that he was gay. Unfortunately, John’s decision to make this public statement was forced. Prior to this interview, John was outed by a New York-based weekly journal called QW, in an indefensible and misguided attempt to unmask the hypocrisy of Phyllis’ arguments against gay rights.
At the time, Phyllis denounced the outing as a politically motivated hit on her because of her political stance. But even if it was a calculated move, it did little to soften her stance against gay rights, or ruin her relationship with her son.
If anything, John doubled down on supporting his mother’s message of "family values," and took shots at leaders of the gay agenda calling them “a band of screechy gay activists.”
He defended his mother in an interview with the Washington Post, saying, “Family values people, of which my mother is a part, are not out to bash gay people,” adding that they were being unfairly castigated by the media and the opposition party. “In fact,” he went on to say, “they're well-meaning people who are trying to create a better world.”
Did Phyllis support her gay son?
It remains unclear about when exactly Phyllis found out that her son was gay since both of them refused to comment on the matter. However, at 41, John still lived with his parents and as a practicing lawyer, had only one client: his mother’s Eagle Forum.
Still, Phyllis never publicly denounced or supported John’s homosexuality. When asked about her son’s sexual orientation, Phyllis offered a somewhat cold message of solidarity saying, "I love my son. But all my children are adults and lead their own lives.”
John Schlafly carries on his mother’s legacy.
Despite the outing, John and Phyllis remained close till she died. John supported his mother at every step, even physically supporting her as she got older and carrying bags of books for her at conventions.
Since his mother’s death in 2016, John Schlafly continues to uphold her legacy by advocating for conservative issues and routinely meeting with members of Congress on behalf of the Phyllis Schlafly Eagles. He even took over writing Phyllis’ monthly newsletter, The Phyllis Report, along with his brother Andy.
Catch new episodes of Mrs. America every Wednesday on Hulu.