Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Anita Bryant

After watching Milk, some of us discussed our memories of that time period and of Anita Bryant. We remembered when she was Miss America and then later on made commercials for orange juice but then recalled her hate-mongering against gays. For those of you too young to remember her, she was the Marilyn Musgrave of her day. You can find videos of her speeches and the pie in the face on YouTube. Here's one of them that's really short.

I totally cannot understand these people who claim to be Christians but are intolerant of everyone who isn't like they are. I googled her and found this but can't remember where I got it.
Bryant gave a candid interview to Playboy magazine, printed in May 1978 where she admitted that she knew of homosexuals in show business but was unaware of the "nitty gritty" of their sexual behavior until her husband described them to her. She professed being most astonished that they ate each others' sperm, and equated the act with the immorality of destroying the Seed of Life. Bryant also claimed never to have heard of Alfred Kinsey's study that estimated one out of five males had had some sexual contact with another male; or any information about homosexual behavior in animals. The interviewer, Ken Kelley, wrote a companion piece to the interview, stating that she was impossible to "pigeonhole" due to her deliberate enigmatic persona: "She is a confection of contradictions: pristine nun and gamy tease. Old pro who's paid her dues and wide-eyed waif who's still seeking the jackpot. Guilt-wracked sinner who's terrified of hell and perfervid white knight who's determined to lead mankind on a forced march into paradise. Independent spirit, cowering wife. Chaplain one minute, warden the next. She is a demonstrably intelligent woman who stays steadfastly ignorant." For months Bryant called Kelley just to talk, even though she knew she would not be portrayed favorably in the magazine. Kelley and a few others concluded that Bryant was simply very lonely.

The gay community were not the only people adversely affected by the Save Our Children campaign. Bryant and Bob Green were divorced in May 1979, in a dispute made public through newspapers. Bryant moved to Alabama and gave a candid interview to Ladies Home Journal in 1980 where she told the details of her marriage during the campaign. She claimed she had been "married for the wrong reasons" and that she and Green had fought regularly, often considering divorce. Green became her manager and she claimed exhaustion due to being booked for every event available, making $700,000 in 1976. She had checked herself into a Christian psychiatric facility in 1973, and regularly saw psychiatrists and marriage counselors. Her anxiety manifested itself in chest pains, tremors, difficulty swallowing food, and a bout with 24-hour paralysis during a trip to Israel with the Falwell family. Bryant revealed she had received severe criticism from Christians following her divorce. One Canadian pastor expressed doubt to her that she had "ever met the Lord", to her humiliation. As a result of the backlash she received from Christians, Bryant had softened her stances on gay rights: "The church needs to be more loving, unconditionally, and willing to see these people as human beings, to minister to them and try to understand. If I had it to do over, I'd do it again, but not in the same way," and feminism: "The church needs to wake up and find some way to cope with divorce and women's problems that are based on Biblical principles. I believe in the long run God will vindicate me. I've about given up on the fundamentalists, who have become so legalistic and letter-bound to the Bible."

Bryant's career did not recover. She attempted to stage comebacks in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1992, Branson, Missouri in 1994 ("People who come to my performances are hungry for the truth. They thank me for reminding them of the importance of God and country."), and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in 1997. However, at each venue her audiences dwindled and investors were non-existent. By 2002, Bryant and her second husband Charlie Dry had claimed bankruptcy in three states. As of 2006 Bryant was living in Oklahoma City.

In 2007 Bob Green counted the campaign and its aftermath as factors in strengthening his faith. The breakdown of the marriage he attributes on the pressures put on Bryant, and blames gays and lesbians for his emotional devastation after the divorce: "Their goal was to put (Bryant) out of business and destroy her career. And that's what they did. It's unfair.” However, Green said he would not do it again if he had to: "It just wasn't worth it... The trauma, the battling we all got caught up in. I don't want to ever go back to that."

Who is Janet Porter, and what is this crap in an article titled "Anita Bryant Was Right"? I don't want to copy and paste any of that hate message.

For some reason, I'm on the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival emailing list. I don't live there but get to hear about some interesting new movies. I'm a member of the Nashville Independent Film Festival but don't know if that's how I got on their mailing list or not. Here's a trailer for their festival you might enjoy.


Berry Blog said...

so this is one of those you told me you were researching for a post. It's wonderful....a great update.I never knew she had ever softened at all. I remember her losing being the poster girl for OJ ( even gays drink OJ- not just the Seeds of life) That her first husband says the gays and lesbians ruined her career is funny- I'm surprised he gives them that much credit. But for her to admit her own troubles with fundamentalists because she divorced ( did gays cause that too?) is amazing. It's all about convenience what people choose to believe, isn't it?

Bob said...

It's so cute that when she was making all that money she railed against the LGBT community, and when the money dried up so did her rhetoric.
I think it's clear that, all along, Money was her God.

frogponder said...

The acceptance she denied other people sure came around to bite her in her time of need.

Joy said...

Yes, karma got to happen when we could witness it. It's not good when it takes too long. Now I have "Instant Karma" in my mind which would be fine if I could remember more than a few words of it.

I wish more people would wake up to the hate from fundamentalists and put them out of business.

June Saville said...

I saw Milk yesterday and it brought back memories of the goings-on of Anita Bryant and those behind similar dogmatic behaviour.
I agree that we could do without fundamentalists of any type.

It's good to approach all questions with an eye to different points of view - and that includes issues of today.

james nimmo said...

Here's the link to the latest development in homo-hater Bryant's life. She's alive and well in Oklahoma City where her business office is located. Her house is in Edmond, OK, an urban white- flight suburb jut to the north of Oklahoma City.
The author of this story has gone to considerable danger to compile this information--

http://gossip-boy.com/AnitasNewHate.html or--