The Washington Blade has learned that the son of Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant was once attacked because he is gay.
A source who claims to know Patrick Bryant from when they were students at the University of Southern Mississippi told the Washington Blade last week during a telephone interview from Jackson, the state capital, that the incident took place at a bar in Hattiesburg after the governor took office in 2012.
The source said that Patrick Bryant — who was a student at the University of Southern Mississippi at the time — went to the bar with a group of other gay men. The source told the Blade that it is “an open secret” that the governor’s son is gay.
“He was intoxicated and someone asked him if he was, ‘Phil Bryant’s faggot gay son,’” said the source who asked the Blade not to publish their name for fear of retribution from the governor, recalling the alleged incident. “Obviously people took offense to it.”
The source said the man “kept antagonizing him to try to provoke Patrick into a fight.”
The source told the Blade that the man pushed Patrick Bryant.
“It wasn’t really a fair fight,” said the source.
The source told the Blade that Patrick Bryant moved to Austin, Texas, shortly after the alleged incident took place.
“He (Phil Bryant) knew that if Patrick stayed, he knew eventually everyone would realize Patrick’s gay and it would come out during an election and someone would try to use it against him politically,” said the source.
The Blade reached the Hattiesburg Police Department on Monday. The officer who answered the phone did not follow-up with information about the alleged attack.
WLOX, a television station on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, reported that Patrick Bryant helped decorate the Governor’s Mansion for the holidays in 2012. His LinkedIn page says he is currently an interior designer for a firm in Austin, Texas.
Robin Roberts: HB 1523 ‘hurts my soul’
The source spoke with the Blade two days after Phil Bryant signed House Bill 1523, a sweeping “religious freedom” bill that critics contend would allow anti-LGBT discrimination in Mississippi.
“Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts, who grew up in Pass Christian on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and came out as a lesbian in 2013, appears on the cover of the state’s most recent tourism guide. She criticized HB 1523 in a statement to WLOX.
“My longtime partner, Amber, and I have always felt welcomed in my home state, and it hurts my soul to think of anyone not feeling welcome,” said Roberts.
Ellen DeGeneres, who grew up in Louisiana, is among those who have also criticized Mississippi’s religious freedom law. Spokespersons for the Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services and Housing and Urban Development told the Blade last week that their respective agencies are reviewing the controversial statute.
“No business that serves the public asks its customers if they are gay, bisexual, transgendered or straight before providing services, nor should they,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the Mississippi-based American Family Association, in an April 6 post to his website. “This is what opponents of our new state law want you to believe. That simply doesn’t happen.”
“But any private small business owner such as a baker, a photographer, a florist, etc., should not be forced by the power of the government to be an active participant in a wedding ceremony or else be put out of business,” he added. “Mississippi’s new law protects these people from having their lives ruined simply because they are Christians.”
Family thrown ‘under the bus for politics’ in Miss.
Speculation over Patrick Bryant’s sexual orientation has persisted for years.
Mitchell Moore, owner of Campbell’s Bakery in the Fondren neighborhood of Jackson, told the Blade in 2014 shortly after another religious freedom bill that Phil Bryant signed took effect that the governor enacted it because he had yet to accept his son’s homosexuality. The source with whom the Blade spoke last week said “it’s an open secret” that Patrick Bryant is gay.
Neither Patrick Bryant nor his father’s office returned the Blade’s multiple requests for comment for this story.
“People will definitely throw their family under the bus for politics (in this state,)” said the source.