In September 1992, John Schlafly, the son of conservative crusader Phyllis Schlafly, confirmed he was gay to the San Francisco Examiner. On the most recent episode of Hulu's Mrs. America, though, it’s still only 1974. Phyllis sits with her son on a piano bench, imploring him to be “careful” when it comes to his sexual partners. By way of encouraging him against “seduction," she tells him the story of how she quit smoking cold turkey on her wedding day. Then, they duet on a playful new jingle for her anti-ERA campaign. So what happened to John Schlafly to explain his public declaration — and where is he now?
According to contemporary news reports, the decision to share his sexual identity was not one John Schlafly undertook willingly. Prior to the interview he gave to the Examiner, he was outed by QW, a gay magazine published in New York City. His mother, at least partially, stood by her son, accusing the media of a “feeding frenzy.” Both told UPI at the time that they believed the disclosure was “politically motivated.”
John, then 41 and employed as a tax attorney, took pains to reconcile his sexuality with his mother’s right-wing agenda. “The family values movement is not anti-gay,” he said to The Los Angeles Times, which noted that his mother’s political organization, the Eagle Forum, was John's client and that John still lived at home. “I hold my mother in very high esteem. She’s doing good work.”
In several interviews, Phyllis declined to confirm when she learned her son was gay, declaring it’s “not a big subject” around the house. Asked by the Washington Post if she supported him, she offered clipped solidarity: "I love my son. But all my children are adults and lead their own lives.”
Ultimately, it seems Schlafly’s public outing did little to threaten the bond between Phyllis and her first born. John was a director and paid staffer at the Eagle Forum as recently as 2004. Since his mother’s death in 2016, he's assumed the writing of her monthly newsletter, The Phyllis Report, along with his brother Andy. And just last May, he posted a Mother’s Day tribute to the woman he remembers as “devoted her full time to rearing, nurturing, and educating the next generation of Americans.”
Yet there has been family discord since Phyllis’ death at 92. Anne Schlafly Cori, who has been openly critical of Mrs. America, accused her elder brother of secretly encouraging their mother to “tweak” her will prior to her death, diminishing Cori's inheritance. She filed a lawsuit alleging that both John and Andy exerted “undue influence,” but the schism between the siblings dates even further back to Phyllis' support of Donald Trump’s 2016 candidacy. The board of the Eagle Forum, which Cori now chairs, opposed the endorsement.
John, as he did back in ‘92, remained loyal to his mother’s side.