Red Queers Unite!

Rob Schlein

No, I’m not talking about Native American homosexuals!  In October 2011, the National Log Cabin Republicans, a gay/lesbian political group, revoked the charter of its Dallas chapter after its president, Rob Schlein, told a national radio audience that businesses should be allowed to fire people just because they’re Black.  I suppose he feels the same about Hispanics and Indians, although I don’t know if he feels Caucasians should be equally vulnerable.  Not to be overshadowed, Schlein created Metroplex Republicans of Dallas.  The city now has the unique distinction of having 2 gay Republican groups.  Only in Texas, I guess!  But, in a press release issued this past Wednesday, Schlein announced Metroplex Republicans will unite with another national conservative gay group, GOProud.  GOProud bills itself as “a national organization of gay and straight Americans who seek to promote freedom by supporting free markets, limited government, and a respect for individual rights.”  Funny, respect is what queer and non-White folks have demanded for years now.

A Dallas native, Schlein is a self-made businessman; successfully operating a series of men’s clothing stores in the area.  Last September he told radio talk show host Michelangelo Signorile that, as a business owner in a right-to-work state, he should be able to fire someone at will, regardless of race.  But, he noted, wouldn’t necessarily tell them that.  “I’d find a reason if I wanted to fire them,” Schlein said.  It might be worth noting Schlein is Jewish, and his partner his half-Native American.

I knew Schlein several years ago, when we were members of Lambda Pride Toastmasters, a local Toastmasters club he had founded with his partner and some other friends.  He told me once that discrimination is inherent in human nature; that we discriminate every day, for example, when we choose what we have for lunch, or buy a car.  I promptly told him discrimination is a deliberate act of animosity and bigotry towards an individual or a group, based upon an intrinsic quality attributed to that person or group.  Choosing what we have for lunch is merely selection, not bigotry.  I was shocked that he’d compare racial discrimination to lunch selections, but that’s before I actually got to know him and his mindset.  Later, in a speech before the club, Schlein mentioned that people who don’t have enough in financial assets invite scorn and disrespect, especially in the workplace.  That elicited an extremely hostile reaction from me after the meeting.  “You mean to say, when people disrespected me at the bank, it’s because I didn’t have enough money in my checking account?!” I literally yelled at him.  He fumbled for an answer, as fellow club members stood around shocked by my outburst.

Schlein has also been active in local politics for years.  A Reagan devotee, he created some measure of controversy in the Dallas gay community when he aligned himself with the ultra-conservative Texas Eagle Forum.  Founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972, TEF promotes a staunchly conservative agenda, including opposition to anything related to gay rights.  It’s odd, considering Schlafly has an openly gay son; something she seems loathe to admit publicly.  I’ve always been curious how queer folks fit into the Republican Party.  Some compare it to Hispanics who work for the Border Patrol, but I kind of look at it like Indians who’d join Custer’s army.  What’s the point?  They won’t like you anyway.  Schlein once told me he didn’t care if the average Republican liked him or not; he was more concerned about the overall conservative cause.  I guess that’s how a lot of Indians felt in the 1860’s, as they attired themselves in traditional southern regalia; hoping to fit in alongside White slave owners.  Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln was ordering the U.S. Army to massacre as many Indians as possible out West.

On a side note, Metroplex Republicans of Dallas meets once a month at a Mexican restaurant near Dallas’s “Homo Heights,” a.k.a. the Cedar Springs – Oak Lawn area of town.  Don’t you know that would get Phyllis Schlafly’s bloomers in a bind?

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