Today in 1977, the former Miss America-turned-gay-baiter, Anita Bryant, came face to face with the First Amendment:
Out magazine reminds us:
“At least it was a fruit pie,” Bryant responded before bursting into tears and praying.
Bryant was the public leader for Save Our Children, a political coalition that was against homosexuals and sought to overturn an ordinance that prohibited discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation.
“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life,” Bryant said in 1977. “I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.”
The gay community retaliated against the campaign by boycotting Florida orange juice, as Bryant was their brand ambassador. Gay bars stopped selling screwdrivers and instead sold Anita Bryants, made with vodka and apple juice, the proceeds from which went to a fund that would help to fight against Bryant.
As a result, Bryant lost her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission, her marriage failed, and fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her.
Bryant is still active today running Anita Bryant Ministries International.
Anita Bryant was, and is, an aggressively, pridefully, ignorant person (oddly, she is the only homophobe of her generation not holding a high post in the Trump administration).
But her vicious campaign not only taught Florida fruit growers calling people "fruits" was expensive, it also generated a remarkably literary moment that reverberates to this day. From his Tales of the City series novels, Armistead Maupin's Letter to Mama is read here by Sir Ian McKellen: