Dr. Laura Schlessinger has a syndicated daily radio show with 8.5 million daily listeners. She doles out advice on marriages, family and other personal relationships from a conservative perspective. She unabashedly confronts her callers with what she perceives to be their irresponsible decisions and advises personal responsibility.
I’ve listened to Dr. Laura, on and off, for over a decade. While for many years Dr. Laura simply dispensed advice, in the late 90’s and early part of this century she began to become quite political, encouraging her listeners to write letters and make phone calls on legislation that she favored or opposed. Some of this legislation had an impact on the lives of gay people.
In 2000, a television show was developed around Dr. Laura and her advice. Certain gay activists, including GLAAD and a dedicated website, went on the offensive to ensure that Dr. Laura’s empire did not successfully branch into television. Protests were staged and revenues targeted using the tactic of showing potential advertisers selected abstracts from Dr. Laura’s radio show in which she made disparaging remarks about gay people.
Whether because of the activism, because of abysmal ratings, or because of accusations made regarding planted audience participants and fake guests, Dr. Laura’s television show was quickly removed from the air.
2005 2000 Dr. Laura has also ventured into the ex-gay conversation by writing the foreword to Richard Cohen’s book Coming Out Straight : Understanding and Healing Homosexuality. (I don’t know if the current version contains a foreword by Dr. Laura, the cover does not feature her name as did the earlier version)
After her TV show tanked, Dr. Laura seemed to drop the politics and focus instead on interpersonal relationships of her callers. Somewhere along that time her language also began to be less abrasive and while it seemed that she held a great deal of bitterness towards the gay community, she demonstrated less vitriol when addressing actual gay callers.
Later that year she In 2005 Dr. Laura spoke to a Los Angeles meeting of Log Cabin Republicans. She stated that this was the first time any gay group had ever invited her to speak. And while her position on parenting seems to remain hostile, this olive branch may perhaps have softened some of her perspective.
Now, in an interview with Radar, Dr. Laura has more to say on the subject of homosexuality and ex-gay efforts.
In the interview, Dr. Laura defends her “biological error” statement
Well, I’ve seen you refer to them as “biological deviants.”
I never said that. See what I mean? See what I mean?
That’s what I read. (Editor’s note: Not exactly. The term she used, according to GLAAD, was “biological errors.”)
For 50 years, the homosexual activists have said it’s a biological issue, not a moral issue. Since it’s a biological issue, it’s built in. For example, if a lion comes into the room and kills you, that’s not a moral issue, since the lion has no right or wrong, because it’s built into the DNA. Homosexual activists have said it’s built in, therefore it’s not a choice; and if it’s not a choice, it’s not a moral issue.
The classic nature versus nurture argument.
Right. That you don’t create a homosexual by having a close mommy. All I said was exactly the same as the activists have said for 50 years—that it’s a biological error when a person is attracted to a person of the same sex, biologically, as opposed to someone of the opposite sex, because that’s not the reproductive pressure. That’s all I said. That’s it! I didn’t put anyone down.
one-ups the “some of my best friends are” cliche
My two best friends in the world are—shock!—gay men. I have a ton of gay friends. I even have a brand-new transsexual friend. I have no problem with them, and they have no problem with me.
Tells gay men how to deal with anti-gay parents
Well, as long as we’re getting personal, I have a question: my partner’s mother has tried to put him into therapy because she’s not comfortable with the fact that he’s gay. They haven’t talked in quite some time as a result of that. [Editor’s note: Neel Shah is not, in fact, gay. He is, however, gay friendly.]
That’s very sad.
Is there anything that can be done in our situation?
Well, when parents call me, or when young gay guys call me and say, My parents don’t like this and want me to go into reparative therapy, here’s what I say: If parents are willing to have you over for dinner and Christmas with family, but they don’t like that you’re gay, you just have to accept that. They are allowed to have that opinion. What they’re not allowed to do, as decent mommies and daddies, is reject you.
seems to possibly support relationships for gay men
All I know is that male loners—straight or gay—tend to do more bad things.
What do you mean by loners?
Well, you know how they always say the guy who went and shot up a bunch of people at work, or who was a serial killer—these are unattached guys, loners. Unattached men are dangerous creatures [laughs]. I can tell you that. You don’t normally see a guy, married, three kids, blah blah blah, in monogamous relationship for 20 years, out doing bad stuff.
(That statement may have been more effective had it not been made in the context of Ted Haggard. She seems to not know who he is or that he was married with kids and in a supposedly monogamous relationship for many years.)
And weighs in on reparative therapy
Do you think reparative therapy is effective?
Evidently it is with some people. This is not an area I am very researched in. There’s a psychiatrist from Columbia, I can’t remember his name, but he says with some people who are highly motivated, evidently it works for them.
Motivated to not be gay?
Right. I forget his name, though. Damn. You can look it up. [Editor’s note: We did, it’s Professor Robert Spitzer, M.D.]
The interviewer missed a great opportunity to ask Dr. Laura if she still endorses Richard Cohen’s therapy involving cuddling the patient or his beating a pillow with a tennis racquet. And he seemed to be more interested in being confrontational and “catching” Dr. Laura than in a substantive interview and consequently does not come across as well-prepared.
However, the questions asked do give a greater understanding into the thinking and opinions of this very influential woman. And since she perceives herself to be gay supportive, perhaps her best friends will be able to help her thinking evolve on issues of legal equality.