Focus on the Family | News

TOMS Founder Explains Focus On The Family Appearance

BlakeTOMS Blake Mycoskie, founder of the wildly popular TOMS Shoes, came under scrutiny late this week, when anti-gay group Focus on the Family announced that he had spoken at one of their events.

Following a barrage of criticism, Mycoskie has issued a statement insisting that he does not approve of the organization's politics and feels they misrepresented his appearance as a partnership.


Had I known the full extent of Focus on the Family’s beliefs, I would not have accepted the invitation to speak at their event. It was an oversight on my part and the company’s part and one we regret. In the last 18 months we have presented at over 70 different engagements and we do our best to make sure we choose our engagements wisely, on this one we chose poorly.

Furthermore, contrary to what has been reported, Focus on the Family is not a TOMS giving partner.

So there is no misunderstanding created by this mistake, let me clearly state that both TOMS, and I as the founder, are passionate believers in equal human and civil rights for all. That belief is a core value of the company and of which we are most proud.

This means, of course, that readers can still rock their TOMS without feeling like sell-outs.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. dumb question. how do you go to speak to a group and not know what they are about? do he accept just any speaking engagement? before most public people speak to a group they do their research.

    Posted by: walter | Jul 9, 2011 10:04:21 PM

  2. Guys, when FOF approaches a business to 'work with' or 'partner' with them, they don't say "We represent the rabid anti-homo lobby".

    They sugar coat their message - it's about keeping families together, its about the kids, its all about apple pie and good things. That's why they're successful -- they're 'safe' -- how can it be a bad choice to be 'pro-family'?

    You have to do some deep digging and read between he lines to learn pro-family = anti-gay.

    We're attuned to the code words the rabid right uses. Most folks aren't. It's not hard to be inadvertently caught up in the FOF/AFA nonsense.

    Unless an business is ideologically bent towards the religious right there's no upside for them to work with the haters. I accept that it's possible to naively become involved with these groups. When your eyes are opened and you realize your error, sincerely apologize and distance yourself from the H8, perhaps we could agree a lesson has been learned and the H8ters have been discredited.

    A lot of good people who are queer allies have been hoodwinked by these groups. That's their M.O.

    Posted by: Dickster | Jul 9, 2011 10:16:20 PM

  3. It is quite possible that Mycoskie was sincerely unaware of the nefarious agenda of Focus on the Family. The name of the group certainly sounds "wholesome" enough, which certainly allows them much latitude in pushing their anti-GLBT agenda. I'm cutting Mycoskie some slack because not everyone is as politically astute as those of us for whom FocusFamily is striving to deny reasonable and equal rights.

    Posted by: mattgmd | Jul 9, 2011 10:56:16 PM

  4. Oh c'mon. It's 2011 and "Family" has been a code word since Reagan was in office. If someone asked you to speak in front of their group and you weren't familiar with them, especially as the representative of a business, wouldn't you at least look them up? And the criticism of FOTF is NOT hidden, it's right up front on any search, on their Wikipedia page, very easy to find.

    "The KKK? That's like a Fraternity, right?"

    Posted by: Codswallop | Jul 9, 2011 11:06:40 PM

  5. You dont need to do any "deep digging" to know what Focus On The Family is about. Thats a straight up lie. This Mycoskie guy is full of ca-ca. And those SHOES! Hideous! I wouldnt be caught wearing those tacky shoes at a cockfight.

    Posted by: Judy Was A Punk | Jul 9, 2011 11:24:33 PM

  6. So, did Toms not authorize this page on FOtF's site? Sure seems like a partnership between Toms and FOtF to me.

    Sure has the appearance of a partnership between Toms and FOtF to me.

    Posted by: Kathleen | Jul 9, 2011 11:29:19 PM

  7. Everyone knows what FoF is about, and it ain't a day in the park. How a biz exec can schedule an event without due diligence, and then, actually show up for the talk...???!!! I'm not buying it. Did he collect a fee or a commitment from his appearance? Would he have apologized had he not been called out? The real way to make amends is to have those shoes rain down on populations that are connected with the lgbt communities in every part of the globe.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jul 9, 2011 11:41:44 PM

  8. Mycoskie attends a Southern Baptist church in LA, and clearly runs in Christian fundamentalist circles. So, I don't believe his backtracking.

    Anyway, buy some espadrilles if you care about gay rights and want casual slip-ons.

    Posted by: Todd | Jul 9, 2011 11:49:31 PM

  9. What did he talk about?

    Posted by: Roger | Jul 10, 2011 12:00:42 AM

  10. Ummm that last sentence has to go - let it be up to the consumer on where to spend hard-earned cash. Toms is off my list.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 10, 2011 1:04:14 AM

  11. I appreciate his mea culpa and will cut him some slack, but anyone who ever watches a news show, reads a magazine, or newspaper even a few times a year has an amazingly likely time of knowing who Focus on the Family is ... they make sure of that. I have trouble buying the "oops, didn't know they were bastiches" excuse ...

    Posted by: Pitt90 | Jul 10, 2011 1:04:48 AM

  12. Ahhh...Citizens United at work. Don't have to worry about publically supporting the homicidal maniacs you personally agree with. Who cares what the rest of your peon work force thinks. Hey, some of them could be LGBT too. But they can go pound dirt. Right TOMS?

    Got to love it when Fascism flames it's historical christian tinder...someone always gets caught in the fire. This era it's us LGBTs ...again. Christians just love a good whimilation. So much little time!

    Posted by: Roger Ramjet | Jul 10, 2011 1:14:26 AM

  13. Proof that Blake knew about FoF:

    If he didn’t google it himself, and didn’t know what FoTF stands for even though he attended a southern baptist church, he sure was warned about it 2 WEEKS BEFORE the event. And he read the comments too, but he chose to ignore them.

    Posted by: IMHO | Jul 10, 2011 2:08:08 AM

  14. Stupid hippy and his crap shoes.

    Posted by: Jeremy | Jul 10, 2011 3:26:54 AM

  15. What the f#ck is a TOMS shoe? And do your homework, d*#che.

    Posted by: Your Mom | Jul 10, 2011 3:28:32 AM

  16. A) the shoes are ugly
    B) it will probably be discovered that he's the nephew of Anita Bryant.

    Posted by: Oliver | Jul 10, 2011 6:36:15 AM

  17. Guys, bear in mind that the average straight American who isn't a religious nut probably has NOT heard of Focus on the Family. They might innocently assume that Focus on the Family actually focused on families rather than gay-bashing. Just as people not really acquainted with NOM might wrongly assume they're actually concerned with marriage and families instead of gay-bashing. I'm very willing to give TOMS the benefit of the doubt.

    Posted by: Abel | Jul 10, 2011 7:01:56 AM

  18. It's all about money... people compromise their principles for money and then say how bad they feel about about it when it becomes an issue. Just like when Elton John performed at Rush Limbaugh's wedding reception. He knew Rush was a big time bigot but there was money to be had so that made it okay.

    Posted by: Nate | Jul 10, 2011 7:30:44 AM

  19. Most straight people that don't follow religion don't have a clue what FOF does or their philosophy. I have spoken to many people that are clueless and that's why so many anti-gay laws and constitutional amendments get added because they think that FOF is a non-x-tian organization...

    Posted by: wyocwboy62 | Jul 10, 2011 8:22:06 AM

  20. This guy is a LIAR. He initially might not have realized what FOTF stood for but he knew after arriving to speak at their event and he sure as hell knows now. I went through the whole ordering process and just before I was asked to put in my cc number the screen asks for coupon code or gift card number. I put in FOCUS and received a $5 discount. Strike another brand I will never wear again.

    Posted by: RT | Jul 10, 2011 8:26:57 AM

  21. If you just go to the FOF website, and click on the first options given (Marriage, the God's Design for Marriage, the Divine Order to Marriage), then you are linked to an article that ends with this:

    "Beloved, there is a profound and awesome reason for the way God ordered the creation of man—one that is commented on throughout Scripture, and one that we must observe if we are to find the fulfillment of our very being as humans. It is ordered as the union of a man and a woman in marriage—heterosexual and monogamous—an order that Jesus unambiguously reaffirmed in Matthew."

    Its not rocket science to navigate their site. You only have to click the FIRST LINKS on each page, and you are directed to this article, which clearly states the FOF position on marriage equality (or lack thereof).

    Come on, guys. TOM's does some great work by donating shoes to kids who are without, but if your organization is that focused on humanitarianism, helping the less fortunate, and doing good in the world, then, how could a hate group like FOF's ridiculous anti-gay rhetoric slip through your Google filters?

    I don't buy it, and neither should you.

    Posted by: Patrick | Jul 10, 2011 9:23:04 AM

  22. @IMHO I went to the link you provided which is a blog written by Mycoskie, and it's amazing in the comments section how he or the person who writes the blog for him responds personally to peoples commenst, but totally skips responding to the comments asking why he is affiliating with FotF. There are comments about what a great job he is doing written on the same day as the inquires about FotF, and they/he just responds to the posta about how great he is. Even when a writer from Rolling Stone asks for an expalination he skips responding to it. As you said this was 2 weeks before, so how could he not know or anyone from his organization not have looked into it when people were commenting on the blog two weeks prior? This is all I need to know to know he's just trying to save his ass after this story went wide.

    Posted by: The Iron Orchard | Jul 10, 2011 9:49:04 AM

  23. Ummm, I'm not getteing ANY "explanation" as the Towlroad article erroneously titles. "Explanation of appearance?" Where is the explanation?

    Also, if, as another blog states, this guy attends a Southern Baptist Church, (supposedly he does) how could he NOT know if FoF's unfortunate beliefs? Is he an ex-gay? A closet case? He's in fashion, so there are gay people all around him all the time. I just don't buy his "oops" apology.

    And that hair! You look like a bad hair day in NYC humidity. I'm itchy all over just looking at your pic. For God's sake man, get it cut or something!

    Posted by: TomJ | Jul 10, 2011 10:07:12 AM

  24. is he just stupid?

    Posted by: nic | Jul 10, 2011 10:53:22 AM

  25. Who did he think he was going to address? Why didn't he do a little research before he committed. What did he say at the event? This guy--and his company--are full of crap.

    Posted by: djork | Jul 10, 2011 11:04:41 AM

  26. « | 1 2 3 »

Post a comment


« «News: Jeter's 3000th, South Sudan, LGBT Comics, Dallas Redux« «