Anita Bryant

American singer

Anita Jane Bryant (born March 25, 1940) is an American anti-gay activist and singer. She achieved four "Top 40" hits in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Paper Roses" which reached No. 5 on the charts. She was the 1958 Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and a brand ambassador from 1969 to 1980 for the Florida Citrus Commission.

If you truly are serious about life, nothing short of Jesus can suffice.
Your new day begins when you arrive at the place God intends.
It is simply not true that all human beings have the same rights.
The attempt by homosexuals to label this as a civil-rights issue was nothing but camouflage. If we as a nation eventually came to the place where this is sanctioned as a legitimate civil-rights issue, then what is to stop the adulterer from claiming "adulterer rights," the murderer from shouting "murderer rights," the thief to claim "extortioner rights," and a rebellious young person to insist on "rebellious-child rights"?
The media misquoted me, saying that I called homosexuals garbage. That was not what I said. As I talked about our concern for the health and diet of our children and other people's children, I said, "If they are exposed to homosexuality, I might as well feed them garbage."
Homosexuals cannot reproduce- so they must recruit. And to freshen their ranks, they must recruit the youth of America. I shall continue to fight against that recruitment.

In the 1970s, Bryant became known as an outspoken opponent of gay rights in the U.S. In 1977, she ran the "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal a local ordinance in Miami-Dade County, Florida, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Her involvement with the campaign was condemned by gay rights activists. They were assisted by many other prominent figures in music, film, and television, and retaliated by boycotting the orange juice that she promoted. Though the campaign ended successfully with a 69% majority vote to repeal the ordinance on June 7, 1977 (Dade County restored the ordinance in 1998), it permanently damaged her public image, and her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was terminated three years later. This, as well as her later divorce from Bob Green, damaged her financially. Bryant never regained her former prominence and filed for bankruptcy twice. She lives in her home state of Oklahoma.

QuotesEdit

  • As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children. [...] [T]herefore, they must recruit our children. If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nailbiters.
  • If homosexuality was the normal way, God would have made Adam and Bruce.
    • 1977 comment, quoted in Louise Spilsbury Same sex Marriage New York: Rosen Central (2011), p. 11
  • If homosexuals are allowed to change the law in their favor, why not prostitutes, thieves, or murderers? [...] Some of the stories I could tell you of child recruitment and child abuse by homosexuals would turn your stomach.
    • Quoted in Morton Kondracke (1980). "Anita Bryant Is Mad About Gays", The New Republic, p. 13–14.

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory (1970)Edit

Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company.
  • Those girls who give themselves to the man they love before marriage really succeed in cheating themselves. I know and understand how strong the temptation is, but also I know something else: there is nothing else more beautiful and wonderful than sexual love between marriage partners- when that love is entered into and blessed by God. Why would anyone want to accept anything less?
    • p. 66
  • I'm convinced that when you turn your business over to God entirely, He not only will send you exactly the type work that's best for your talents and your nature, but He'll help you begin to aim higher, so your ambitions will become more worthy of Him. It becomes a matter of really trusting the Lord to provide. This has to be learned. It may sound strange to those who don't operate the way Bob and I do, but we absolutely know the Lord will open all the right doors.
    • p. 78
  • For years, as I've said, Bob has worked hard for our family's sake to cut traveling to a minimum. But there are some 300,000 miles that he and I shared that we wouldn't take back for anything. I mean the world-famous Bob Hope Holiday tours to the armed forces stationed in remote posts overseas, on behalf of the U.S.O. "Go with us one time, Anita, and it will get into your blood," Bob Hope suggested in 1960, the first year Bob and I were married. "You'll never play to a greater audience."
    • p. 98
  • The last three tours abroad with Bob Hope took my husband and I to Viet Nam. There was distinct danger those times, and more than once Bob and I discussed the wisdom of our flying together so much. With two small children to consider, we knew we should not take unnecessary risks. Still, something continued to draw us on, as Bob Hope said it would. That something is the incredible courage and stamina of the American fighting man, and still more, respect for all the good and decent things he stands for as an individual. We soon learned that these men wanted good, wholesome entertainment, not just cheap laughs. They wanted to look at a real woman from back home, not just what Bob Hope called the "sexpot type." And Bob and I learned that these men, who often lived and worked just moments away from death, very much cared about God.
    • p. 100
  • I stood only three feet before my audience. As we began the "Battle Hymn," I sang with great concentration, my eyes half closed. Suddenly I felt the power of the Holy Spirit within that room. As the hymn gathered force, I knew the Lord was speaking to me and to everyone else there. Then the President of the United States and all the other people in that historic room rose to their feet, applauding and cheering. For a long, unforgettable moment, the great American hymn held us close to one another. Certainly, for me, it was an awesome moment. But the awe I felt within the White House that night surpassed everything I might have felt about the world figures who were gathered there. What each of us felt that night, I am convinced, was the unmistakable authority of Almighty God.
    • p. 112
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson reminded me of my dad. Genial, full of homespun humor and stories about Texas, he is really down-to-earth and genuine, very much his own man. One episode in particular illustrates to me the special thoughtfulness of President and Mrs. Johnson. Bob and I were visiting them informally in their White House living room when the President invited us to bring Bobby and Gloria to call on him in the White House. "When would be a good time?" we asked. "You'd better make it before Easter," Mrs. Johnson suggested. She must have known at that time that within weeks her husband would surprise the world with his announcement that he did not intend to seek reelection. President Johnson received us and our children in the anteroom to his White House office. I imagine Bob and I felt as apprehensive as any other parents might have felt, wondering if their youngsters would do or say anything unpredictable during a call on America's chief executive! "You sure look like somebody I know," President Johnson said, stooping low to meet Gloria's eyes. "And you look like your daddy," he told Bobby.
    • p. 114
  • Bob and I began to relax. To our children, the President wasn't the President, but a very nice granddaddy. When he pulled out a drawer and gave them candy, there was immediate rapport. During a nice, chatty visit, the President also presented our youngsters with pens, and gave Bobby a tie clasp and Gloria a charm. There were mementoes for Bob and me, too: cuff links with the presidential seal for him, a perfume atomizer and a charm with the presidential seal for me.
    • p. 114
  • In many times and places, mine eyes have seen the glory, I thought. And sometimes, when our eyes are opened to Him, the glory seems particularly bright- at home.
    • p. 159

Bless This House (1972)Edit

Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company. Co-written with Bob Green; all quotes are from sections specifically written by Bryant.
  • A Christian home never comes about by accident. I believe it must require more grace and hard work than any other organization on earth. Bob and I receive letters every day from Americans who express deep yearnings and real concern for the quality of life in their homes. They know they need God in their lives. How do you find this? They ask us. Where do you begin? To establish a Christian home, you must begin with the individuals in it. More accurately, you must start with yourself- wherever you are, whatever your role. The initial step is to make sure your own relationship with God is right by accepting His Son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Lord and Saviour. Nothing else can happen until you do. But when that right relationship is established, anything can happen. I mean it. We get so many letters telling about miracles that happened within four walls of a home. You can only praise Jesus for them! However, a "good" home will never be good enough.
    • p. 113-114
  • Nowadays many intelligent young women attempt to establish good homes on mere social and psychological precepts. They turn to well-meaning advice you find in popular magazines. I don't knock it. Much of it is good. However, it never goes far enough. It will leave you stranded every time. If you truly are serious about life, nothing short of Jesus can suffice.
    • p. 114

Bless This Food (1975)Edit

Garden City: Doubleday and Company, Inc.
  • My cooking days began in Mother and Grandma Berry's kitchen. They allowed me to try all kinds of cooking "experiments." Then Grandpa and Grandma would taste the new dish and brag just like it was the tastiest meal ever. It never occurred to me that they might be speaking more out of love than out of truth.
    • p. xii
  • I truly felt (and feel) a strong sense of God's leadership in pursuing the thing I loved best- singing. I believe God gave me a voice to be used for His glory. He carefully guided me, constantly providing opportunities for each step of development in a career. I simply had to do my best, practice, prepare, and follow Him. In fact, my whole career is simply a study of God's plan and leadership. As long as I trusted Him for guidance, He miraculously showed me one step at a time. Every time I began to take things into my own hands or began to walk over people, or became too ambitious, God had ways of putting me in my place.
    • p. xiii

The Anita Bryant Story (1977)Edit

Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company.
  • The media misquoted me, saying that I called homosexuals garbage. That was not what I said. As I talked about our concern for the health and diet of our children and other people's children, I said, "If they are exposed to homosexuality, I might as well feed them garbage." I think there is a difference, but I leave it to the reader to interpret as you wish- we did not resort to name-calling at any time during the campaign in Miami.
    • p. 27
  • The attempt by homosexuals to label this as a civil-rights issue was nothing but camouflage. If we as a nation eventually came to the place where this is sanctioned as a legitimate civil-rights issue, then what is to stop the adulterer from claiming "adulterer rights," the murderer from shouting "murderer rights," the thief to claim "extortioner rights," and a rebellious young person to insist on "rebellious-child rights"?
    • p. 35
  • The militant homosexuals in this country and their sympathizers don't realize the extent of my Christian convictions. They don't comprehend what my commitment to Christ really means. They think that my priorities are where their priorities are- in money, careers, power, doing what makes one feel good. It is not even within their realms of thinking that someone would sacrifice her career to stand for what she believes. But this I have been willing to do. The "gay" activists cannot comprehend that we have been the happiest in our lives since all this began, because we know we are doing what God has asked us to do. There is no satisfaction that equals it. The Lord and our family come first. This is what, in the idiom of the world, "turns us on." We have not been destroyed because of this; we have been strengthened. Through it all I was working as if everything depended on me, but I was praying, knowing everything depended on God. And it did! And it does! And He does not let down those who trust and obey Him.
    • p. 37
  • To talk about the "rights" of someone who has chosen to rebel against responsible living is nonsense. It is simply not true that all human beings have the same rights.
    • p. 38
  • The hurt in my heart and the agony in my soul were of such intensity that when I was home and first got the news of a national homosexual bill similar to the one in Dade County, all I could do was cry. This bill, HR2998, would have the effect of making it mandatory nationwide to hire known practicing homosexuals in public schools and in other areas. With all the thousands of other letters I received from groups all over the country dealing with pornography, abortion, TV violence, ERA, and various other things, all I could do was weep for America. There are no words in the English language strong enough to describe the grief I felt.
    • p. 53
      • NOTE: The bill referenced was introduced in the House of Representatives, 95th Congress by Edward I. Koch (D-NY) on 2 February 1977, and was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Committee on Education and Labor the same day. No further action on the bill ever took place. Contrary to Bryant's claims, the actual summary of the bill was: "Amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit discrimination based on affectional or sexual preference in: (1) public accommodations; (2) public facilities; (3) public education; (4) federally assisted opportunities; (5) equal employment opportunities; (6) housing; and (7) educational programs receiving Federal assistance."
  • I repeat my belief: Homosexuals do not suffer discrimination when they keep their perversions in the privacy of their homes. They can hold any job, transact any business, join any organization- so long as they do not flaunt their homosexuality and try to establish role models for the impressionable young people- our children. I will continue to fight the attempts of Metro, and the attempts of a few Congressmen who on February 2 presented a similar type of bill in the Congress of the United States to legitimize homosexuality. Homosexuals cannot reproduce- so they must recruit. And to freshen their ranks, they must recruit the youth of America. I shall continue to fight against that recruitment. Those who do not share my conviction may continue to blacklist my talent- but with God's help, they can never blacken my name.
    • p. 62
  • God's blessing and gratitude... To all those others who served with us during the campaign in Miami, many of whom we disagree with on many issues, political and otherwise, but, who are united with us in the preservation of the American family unit and the attacks on this unit by certain militant segments of our society.
    • p. 156

At Any Cost (1978)Edit

Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company. Co-written with Bob Green; all quotes are from sections specifically written by Bryant.
  • When we started in January 1977, I didn't realize the Dade County situation would lead to a national organization to help other cities. The response has been staggering. I pray that when you, the reader, read news articles or hear news about my public and private life, you will not let the liberal press slant your view.
    • p. 33
  • In the final analysis, we are accountable to God. I may not have the media or the entertainment industry backing me, but I know I do have the backing of the majority of the American people. It is not anything I sought or asked for; but what the militant homosexual community has meant for evil, God has meant and used for good. And that is biblical.
    • p. 34
  • God makes people this way... What could be more erroneous than to blame God for the sin of homosexuality? No one can lay that charge to the Almighty. Research data consistently show that homosexuals must make a choice whether to act out their sexual preference or to keep it under control. Jerry Kirk in his book The Homosexual Crisis in the Mainline Church states that righteousness, not research, will decide where the church must stand. As of now the claims of scientists and researchers are contradictory. Either the church stands on the claims of the Word of God and faces up to the fact that God calls for moral responsibility, or it will be held accountable for failure to hold up the standards of righteousness.
    • p. 35
  • We have a determined foe. It calls for a mighty show of strength by the hitherto silent masses. We believe that the silent majority in America will not allow this destruction of either me or this nation to take place.
    • p. 72
  • On the talk-show program, Ed showed the duplicity of Ken Kelly in trying to make me look anti-Semitic. Kelly had made it appear that I hate Jews and that I had singled out and assigned them to hell. The Bible teaches that those who reject Jesus Christ are lost and doomed to separation from Him in heaven. There is a heaven, and there is a hell. The idea did not originate with me. God has provided a way of salvation, and if men choose to reject this plan, then they are going to have to pay the penalty- non-Jews, as well as Jews. It has nothing to do with a person's ethnic background.
    • p. 78
  • We are living in the midst of a social revolution in our society. My heart's cry is wake up, wake up America, before it's too late.
    • p. 145

A New Day (1992)Edit

Nashville: Broadman Press.
  • I recall soon after my movie to Atlanta in 1984 that the Atlanta Press Club asked me to appear as the "mystery guest" at their Christmas party. Nothing felt scarier than facing a roomful of journalists and their antagonistic questions. I knew I'd have to meet the "enemy" sometime, of course, so why not all of them at once? I asked two friends to accompany me, took a deep breath, and waded into no-man's land. It didn't take long for a talk-show host to corner me and needle me about views obviously at the opposite pole from my own. "Tell me how you feel about abortion," he asked, waving an obvious red flag in my face. "I don't think you want to talk with me about abortion, because I have a very biased viewpoint," I replied. That disconcerted him, but he persisted. "I have a brilliant, handsome, very gifted son, and he's adopted," I told the reporter. "I simply can't be objective about that subject. I do believe that women should control their own bodies, though, but the control needs to be applied before they get pregnant, not after the fact. Once pregnant, a woman is dealing with a child's life and a father's offspring. It isn't too difficult to control one's body by abstaining from sex but, if one chooses not to abstain, one should be prepared for the responsibility of having a child." At once the man's challenging demeanor changed. No longer did he attempt to outwit me conversationally but instead turned into a charming, interested, human individual. We got along fine from that moment on.
    • p. 41-42
  • God provides access to Him at all times and in all places. You can enter a new relationship to God at this moment through His Son Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter if you never approached Him before, or if you once knew Him but have turned away. Even if you're not quite convinced in your heart that God exists and that He cares for you, He still wants to hear from you.
    • p. 49
  • Expect the relationship between God and you to be something totally unique. It's person-to-Person, and it may sometimes be stormy, but always interesting. And when we find ourselves flat on our faces, trying to look up, that's when the strongest bonds become established. Our crisis becomes His opportunity.
    • p. 49
  • Your new day begins when you arrive at the place God intends.
    • p. 208

Quotes about BryantEdit

 
The new right struck pure gold in Anita Bryant. A mother, celebrity singer, former Miss America, and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Growers ("A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine"), the chirpy Bryant was the ideal model for its antigay crusade. ~ John Gallagher and Chris Bull
 
Hey, Fuck Aneta Bryant
Who the Hell is she
Telling all them faggots
That they can't be free
Throw that bitch in prison
Then maybe she'll see
Just how much them goddamned homosexuals mean to me ~ David Allan Coe
 
Many of Bryant's terms and images- indeed, the reiterated word "militant"- derive from American anti-Communist rhetoric. Presumably that militancy justifies her repeated use of war metaphors and her appropriation of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as a campaign jingle. This is not a simple application of Red-baiting rhetoric to homosexuals. After all, homosexuals and Communists were already explicitly associated by McCarthy. Bryant does something more. She reverses McCarthy's accent: homosexuals, not Communists, are now public enemy number one. ~ Mark D. Jordan
 
The image of Bryant that emerges from the Carson monologues- repeatedly to the cheers and laughter of, one presumes, a largely heterosexual studio audience- is that of a prudish, self-righteous fanatic. ~ Tom Shales
 
Anita Bryant Sucks Oranges
 
Actress Liz Torres speaks at 17 June 1977 Anita Bryant protest
  • In January 1977, Anita and Bob, along with fifty other Miami citizens, stepped out in opposition to a proposed ordinance, which, among other things, allow known practicing homosexuals to teach in private and religious schools. In doing so, they became involved in a dramatic and emotional struggle with militant homosexuals. Immediately the dispute erupted into a full-blown national issue. They thought it was a local issue, although they learned much later it was a broader scope. In fact, at the same time, a national homosexual bill (HR 2998) had been introduced in Congress to declare it a legitimate minority, receiving privileges, quotes for work, and all educational institutions and so on. As a result, of Anita’s Christian convictions she took a stand and this national bill never passed. In her last book, “A New Day” Anita said, “I made a stand not against homosexuals, as persons, but against legislation that would tend to “normalize” and abet their lifestyle, and would especially afford them influence over our children who attended private religious school. I testified along with the others against the legislation before the Dade County Commission. The commissioners were already committed to passing it anyway and did.” At first, I did not want to become involved but forged ahead since many encouraged me in my public stance for a Christian view of home and family and protection of our children. I was asked to lead a referendum, so we formed “Save our Children” to change that unconstitutionally unnecessary law. The gay rights law was voted down by the people, not once, but three years in a row. The news media seized the opportunity – in Time and Newsweek, in television and radio reports and in major newspaper headlines across the nation, the story broke and expanded from referendum campaign into a multitude of complex social issues. It was a controversy that wouldn’t go away.
  • Anita Bryant was a phenomenon of the late seventies – an entertainer who was willing to stand up to the vilest and most scurrilous kind of public abuse for the sake of family, morality, simple decency, and the Word of God. She suffered much more than anyone will ever know. She paid a tremendous price. But her confidence always rested in God. The Tulsa, Oklahoma Tribune described her as a square gal out of Tulsa originally, “Who believes in such things as blueberry and apple pie, God, country and the difference between men and women.” Anita liked that she will always be remembered as a witness to and defender of the Truth in the twentieth century. A real heroine.
  • The attendant stresses and strains on her family and marriage finally took their toll and in 1980, Bob and Anita were divorced. Then her world caved in and she was caught between those who opposed her stand and those who condemned her for divorce. The churches dropped her just as the world had. There was nowhere else to turn but to take her children and go back home to Oklahoma, not having a clue as to how to provide for her family, but she knew her family would love just plain Anita Jane, and they did. But for Anita Bryant what happened then? After you are forced into retirement at forty, with four kids to support? After the divorce, the sensationalism and blacklisting, rejection, late night talk shows ridicule, and even a pie in the face?
  • Hey, Fuck Aneta Bryant
    Who the Hell is she
    Telling all them faggots
    That they can't be free
    Throw that bitch in prison
    Then maybe she'll see
    Just how much them goddamned homosexuals mean to me
    • David Allan Coe, "Fuck Aneta Bryant", Nothing Sacred (1978)
  • Because they...
    Wash your clothes
    Clean your cell
    Help you drain your hose
    Give you smokes
    Laugh at jokes
    Sew up all your clothes
    Rub your feet
    Beat your meat
    Heaven only knows
    What I'd do without those homosexuals
    • David Allan Coe, "Fuck Aneta Bryant", Nothing Sacred (1978)
  • They all
    Read and Write
    Fuck all night
    Clean your fingernails
    Help you dress
    Play you chess
    Lay you down some rails
    Be your wife
    Take your life
    In a jealous rage
    Who says we don't need them homosexuals
    • David Allan Coe, "Fuck Aneta Bryant", Nothing Sacred (1978)
  • I tell you
    Some are big
    Some are small
    Some are in-between
    Some are yellow belly queers
    And some of them are mean
    Some are killers
    Some are thiefs
    Some are singers too
    In fact Aneta Bryant
    Some act just like you
    • David Allan Coe, "Fuck Aneta Bryant", Nothing Sacred (1978)
  • Though the times have changed significantly since Bryant's heyday in the 70's, it appears her views have not. In 2021, Bryant's granddaughter Sarah Green told Slate (magazine)|Slate that she came out to her grandmother on her 21st birthday. Bryant reportedly responded by saying homosexuality isn't real. "It's very hard to argue with someone who thinks that an integral part of your identity is just an evil delusion," Green said. Green, who clarified to them.us that she is bisexual, told Slate about her upcoming wedding to her fiancee, a woman, and said she wasn't sure if her grandmother would be attending. "I just kind of feel bad for her," Green added. "And as much as I think she hopes that I will figure things out and come back to God, I kind of hope she'll figure things out." Bryant, now 82, no longer lives in Florida. She returned to her home state of Oklahoma and runs Anita Bryant Ministries International. Neither Bryant nor Green responded to requests for comment.
  • Until the late 1970s, occasional antigay appeals from the right had been like valuable ores left unrefined. But the new right struck pure gold in Anita Bryant. A mother, celebrity singer, former Miss America, and spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Growers ("A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine"), the chirpy Bryant was the ideal model for its antigay crusade. She could safely emphasize the supposed danger the homosexual movement posed to families without appearing mean-spirited. In a 1977 fund-raising letter filled with passages underlined in red, she wrote: "Dear friend: I don't hate the homosexuals! But as a mother, I must protect my children from their evil influence. When the homosexuals burn the holy Bible in public, how can I stand by silently?" Like those of a host of her antigay successors, Bryant's fund-raising appeals would fail to identify which gays had burned a Bible or where, much less acknowledge any anger gays might justifiably harbor at what they took as her appropriating Scriptures for her own partisan political purposes.
    • John Gallagher and Chris Bull, The Perfect Enemies: The Religious Right, the Gay Movement, and the Politics of the 1990s (1996), Ch. 1
  • The Florida Legislature has passed the so-called “don’t say gay” bill banning discussions of sexual orientation and gender identify in the early primary years. Hearing about this bill passing brought me back to 1977. In 1977 a law was passed, also in Florida, banning discrimination in housing and employment based on sexuality. This law was an important step toward respecting gay and lesbian civil rights. But after it was passed, Anita Bryant and a group called Save Our Children managed to get the law overturned. This group based their campaign on the slogan, “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit,” and they claimed that the bill would allow gay teachers into schools creating dangerous role models for kids. The Save Our Children campaign stirred up so much fear that they were able to overturn this law banning discrimination.
    These two anti-gay campaigns, 45 years apart, both imagine a problem where there is none in order to stir up fear and prejudice. In 1977, gay teachers were not a negative influence on their students — it was unlikely that the students even knew that their teachers were gay back when almost everyone was in the closet in their professional life. And primary school teachers aren’t having classroom discussions about sexuality or gender identity. However, if a student has a gay or lesbian parent, or is dealing with gender identity or same sex attraction, teachers will be required to stand by if these students are bullied, rather than try to create some understanding.
  • The blatant fear-mongering and cruelty of the Save The Children campaign incensed me when it drew national attention in 1977. I wanted to do something, and it occurred to me that if people were afraid of having a gay role model influencing a child, then there couldn’t be a more important gay role model than having a gay parent. So, in 1979 I found five families raising children in openly gay homes and I asked them to tell their story for a book titled “A Secret I Can’t Tell.”
  • Sometimes I think I'm the only one who ever comes out and disagrees with Anita Bryant. In the whole world! I get tired of it occasionally- the repercussions. But if she didn't have one person who disagreed with her, it would be disastrous for her. I can't think of anyone else who gives her a hard time. I know I'm important to Anita- how lonely it is, not having people tell you how it really is and what you really are. She trusts me. "Husbands, love your wives." When I look back at our early years, with their lack of spiritual content, I can hardly compare them to what we know now. Still, even at our worst, we had what I consider a normal family structure: man, wife, children. Nowadays in this world, roles seem to get terribly confused.
    • Bob Green, Bless This House (1972) by Anita Bryant and Bob Green, p. 140-141
  • During the past few weeks, I have talked by telephone on numerous occasions with a fine, Christian lady whose face and voice are familiar to most Americans. Her name is Anita Bryant. She has stood beside Billy Graham during his televised crusades. No doubt you have seen her also as she appeared on television commercials advertising Florida orange juice.
    She is a lovely person, deeply committed to Christianity. She is also a concerned American- concerned about the erosion of moral principles and indecency in all of the forms spreading out across America. She has warned that unless America returns to basic principles, our freedoms are in jeopardy. Not so long ago, she spoke out against America's growing tendency to give respectability to homosexuality. And that's where her troubles began.
    • Jesse Helms in a report sent out to his constituents in 1977, reprinted in full by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 101
  • In particular, she condemned legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on January 4 by Congressman Edward I. Koch (pronounced "Kosh"), a member of the New York delegation in Congress. Mr. Koch was nominated by both the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party of New York. The bill that he introduced bears the number H.R. 2998. The title of Mr. Koch's bill states that its purpose is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of affectional or sexual preference... Specifically, the bill would amend the so-called Civil Rights Act of 1964 in several ways. Among other things, employers would be required by federal law to seek out and hire homosexuals on a quota basis. This would include schools, hospitals and other institutions. Failure to comply with the requirement (to hire homosexuals) would result in the loss of federal aid.
    When Anita Bryant dared to speak out against this bill she found herself in deep trouble. In Miami, her home city, the homosexuals (who call themselves "gays" organized, and began a pressure campaign to intimidate the Singer Sewing Machine Company, whch was to have been the sponsor of a television series featuring Anita Bryant.
    Anita's contract for the television series was abruptly canceled. An official of the Singer Company made clear that, all of a sudden, Anita Bryant was "controversial."

Homosexuality

    • Jesse Helms in a report sent out to his constituents in 1977, reprinted in full by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 101-102
  • Controversial? Here was a fine and decent lady, a dedicated Christian, who had dared to speak out. And because she did, her contract was canceled. Small wonder that business people in America today are so rapidly losing the respect of the citizens of this country. If this is an example of those who are the greatest beneficiaries of the free enterprise system, it is a clear indication that if and when the free enterprise system dies, it will be suicide, not murder. Proud- I am proud of Anita Bryant. In my several conversations with her in recent weeks, I have pledged my full support to her.
    I don't know whether the Koch bill will be approved by the House of Representatives. But this much I do know: If and when it gets to the U.S. Senate, I will fight it with every means at my command, with every bit of strength I can muster. Maybe you'd like to drop Miss Anita Bryant a note of encouragement. If so, send it to me, and I'll make certain she receives it. She is fighting for decency and morality in America- and that makes her, in my book, an All-American lady.
    • Jesse Helms in a report sent out to his constituents in 1977, reprinted in full by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (Old Tappan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 102
  • Sandy Hill: Liv, why do you feel so strongly about speaking out against Anita Bryant and her cause?
    Liv Ullmann: Because it's a violation of human rights, civil rights, and it doesn't concern only gay people, it concerns everybody, who sooner or later in life might belong to a group that will be discriminated against.
    • Sandy Hill and Liv Ullmann during Ullmann's appearance on Good Morning America (2 August 1977). Ullmann was introduced by David Hartman and then was interviewed by Sandy Hill. As quoted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 35
  • Long before the public struggle of Dade County began early in 1977, Anita Bryant had been fashioned and refashioned as a public figure, though not explicitly a political one. Of course, the politics of a certain brand of patriotism are there all along. So are the politics of gender. Once Miss Oklahoma (1958) and second runner-up for Miss America (1959), Anita began as a singer with a predictable mixture of patriotic songs, romantic ballads (In A Velvet Mood), and hymns. She joined the Bob Hope Christmas Tours to American soldiers overseas and sang frequently at the White House for LBJ- indeed, she delivered her signature song, the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," at his funeral. In the same years, she appeared in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusade. Then she began to write- her Christian testimony, of course, but also "inspirational" books, many with her husband, including a "Christian" program for physical fitness. Her husband did not author her Christian cookbook.
    In attributing these books to Bryant, I consent to a sort of authorial fiction. Many of her public statements, including her books, were ghostwritten by others, and there is internal reason to conclude that the most political books were pasted together by several hands from various sources. There is no need to decipher this authorship, because I am only interested in the character Bryant represents rhetorically- in Bryant as a papier mâché torso fashioned out of scraps of speech. I am interested in the rhetorical work, the extraordinary performance that this figure can accomplish despite the evident flaws in the speech assigned to it. Like Anita herself, the books overcome defects of form by the melodrama of their appeals and the menacing certainty of their convictions.
    • Mark D. Jordan, Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk About Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 130
  • The Bryant campaign shows something of the techniques and the stages through which the "Religious Right" came to dominate American electoral politics by defending the family, that is, fatherly (or Fatherly) regulation of sex and gender. It should be no surprise that Anita's immediate supporters included the televangelists Jim Bakker and Pat Robertson. Jerry Falwell not only invited her to his show, he lent her experienced campaign staff. Dade County was a laboratory for the Religious Right, in which it learned the usefulness of homosexuality as a wedge issue for both churchly and secular politics- or rather for the fusion of the two. But the Bryant campaign has also been read in the opposite direction, so far as she provoked a new rhetoric of national gay and lesbian politics not quite a decade after Stonewall. During the campaign, activists claimed Bryant provided a national rallying point around which various queer groups could converge- including, importantly, both lesbian and gay groups. The electoral defeat over the ordinance led to much more important electoral victories, including the defeat of the Briggs Initiative in California in the fall of 1978. Or so the stories go.
    • Mark D. Jordan, Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk About Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 136
  • I am more interested in how the Bryant campaign clarifies the continuing history of church debates over homosexuality. It rearticulates decisively the rhetorical devices that some Christian groups had used for decades to "battle" sexual danger. Bryant's performance displays in their mature forms many features of churchly condemnation of homosexuality. She quotes scriptures and rehearses what are supposed to be arguments. She lends her considerable stage presence to the repertoire of inherited topics. But more importantly she performs a rhetoric of compassion and cursing that claims the vulnerability of the young as justification for waging war on homosexuals. The Bryant campaign deploys the professedly, aggressively "Christian" rhetoric that still surrounds us, that still works in us and on us.
    • Mark D. Jordan, Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk About Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 136
  • [Bryant] says: homosexuals have organized themselves into a widespread and well-financed militant organization. Although few in numbers, they attempt to terrorize opponents by telling the big lie and by making themselves appear more numerous than they actually are. Many of Bryant's terms and images- indeed, the reiterated word "militant"- derive from American anti-Communist rhetoric. Presumably that militancy justifies her repeated use of war metaphors and her appropriation of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as a campaign jingle. This is not a simple application of Red-baiting rhetoric to homosexuals. After all, homosexuals and Communists were already explicitly associated by McCarthy. Bryant does something more. She reverses McCarthy's accent: homosexuals, not Communists, are now public enemy number one.
    • Mark D. Jordan, Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk About Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), p. 140
  • During Bryant's campaign, she invoked religious and morality arguments into her speeches and political commercials. These arguments were often built on her underlying assumption that being gay was morally wrong. Knowing that she could not simply rely on demonizing gays, she tried to develop a message that was both secular and promoted a goal that would be uniformly accepted-that nothing should be done to harm children... To show how overturning the gay rights law would promote this seemingly neutral goal, she needed to show how gays were harmful to children. The central part of this argument was that because gays and lesbians could not have children naturally, they would need to recruit children to be gay, which was morally unacceptable. To show how the fight against the Dade County ordinance was based on protecting the children, Anita Bryant and her husband named the group "Save Our Children."
  • Now that the smoke has cleared from last month's big shoot-out in the Dade County corral, let's take a closer look at one aspect of Anita Bryant. The lady is, incidentally, a phenomenon- that rarest of rare birds these days: a female entertainer willing to stand up to the vilest and most scurrilous kind of public abuse for the sake of morality, simple decency and Holy Scripture. But it's the "one aspect" I want to zero in on. Anita doesn't want her children taught in tax-supported public schools by sex perverts. Do you?
    • Max Rafferty, "Joining the Bryant Brigade" in the Los Angeles Times in July 1977, reprinted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 141
  • Here's why I'm lining up in the Bryant Brigade. Not because I want any American denied his or her constitutional rights. Not because I want particularly to be beastly to the bisexual or nasty to the nance. No, it's because children- especially young children- reason this way, and you'd better believe it: "Mom and Dad tell me to mind the teacher, to listen carefully to what she tells me. So what she does and what she is must be okay, fine and dandy." But what the homosexual teacher does and is are most emphatically not okay, fine or dandy at all. Such people, whether willingly or unwillingly, are abnormal by the very definition of the word. The ancient Jews who wrote the Torah used an interesting term to identify the act of sodomy: "confusion." That's what it is, you know. Confusion of the sex roles. Confusion of the biological purpose behind the sex act. Confusion of masculinity with femininity. Confusion thrice combined.
    • Max Rafferty, "Joining the Bryant Brigade" in the Los Angeles Times in July 1977, reprinted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 141
  • And school children catch on inevitably and quickly. Little pitchers have big ears, as our forebears were fond of saying, and it's still true. Their reasoning is stark in its simplicity and as certain as sunrise: "If it's okay to hire a pervert to teach in a public institution and if it's okay to pay a pervert with tax money and if it's okay to put a pervert in charge of the educational destinies of children, then it must be okay to be a pervert." This, fellow Americans, we simply cannot have. We cannot have it because the actual survival of our country in the years ahead depends upon a generation which will be straight, not distorted- sensible, not absurd. Where do I sign up for the duration, General Bryant?
    • Max Rafferty, "Joining the Bryant Brigade" in the Los Angeles Times in July 1977, reprinted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 142
  • Echoes of the Dade County, Florida war rumble on, and Anita Bryant, the Orange Juice girl who became chief protagonist on the side of the victors, emerges as a composite Lucrezia Borgia and Madame Defarge: Militant piety in a Jacobin cap. Miss Bryant is accused of fomenting mass hysteria; of bringing shame upon the nation; of engineering, unassisted, a massive defeat of democracy, and of single-handedly thrusting the country back into the dark ages. Mercy me! One small lady did that? One frenzied letter to our leading herald here in Seattle manages somehow to link Miss Bryant with the anti-Chinese "hysteria" that allegedly overtook the whole country at the turn of the century, the Japanese "exclusion act" of the 1920s (it wasn't exclusion, it was an entry quota), the Japanese resettlement act of World War II, and something the writer calls the "expatriation" of Filipinos. Maybe she means repatriation, which is decidedly different. "Will this country never free itself of this mass hysteria?" the writer asks. "Must every generation shield its children from those few individuals who can tolerate nothing that does not incorporate their own life style...?"
    Talk about hysteria! Now, honestly, does any reasonable person really suppose Anita Bryant managed all that? Isn't it possible that the homosexual community is itself responsible in large measure for this controversy? After all, no one paid them much attention, on the job or off, until they started jabbering publicly about their sex lives, like the cretins in television and the movies who suppose their bedroom activities are somehow of interest to, or the business of, everyone else.
    • Robert R. "Bob" Roberts, KIXI-AM radio broadcast commentator in Seattle, WA, in a radio piece entitled "Anita Bryant: Convenient Kicking Object for Boobs and Hysterics", as quoted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 149-150
  • And just what did Anita Bryant do anyway, apart from persuasively speaking her piece from her point of view? She wasn't the issue, nor were her fundamentalist beliefs the issue. The issue was an ill-considered ordinance that proposed to tell employers whom they must hire, not on the basis of aptitude and qualification for the job, but on the basis of sexual preference, habit or aberration. Had the ordinance not been defeated, how long does one suppose it would have taken the bureaucrats to establish quotas for such hiring? And who would be the next in line demanding their rights? The sado-masochists and the cult of bestiality? If this country would try to get its collective mind out of its groin for five minutes it might recognize that the issue in this melancholy wrangle wasn't Anita Bryant or the rights of homosexuals. It was another blatant attempt by government to impose improper rules and restrictions upon free men and women. The ordinance was bad law; and it was repealed because it was bad law. Anita Bryant is only a convenient kicking object for the hysterical.
    • Robert R. "Bob" Roberts, KIXI-AM radio broadcast commentator in Seattle, WA, in a radio piece entitled "Anita Bryant: Convenient Kicking Object for Boobs and Hysterics", as quoted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 150
  • The image of Bryant that emerges from the Carson monologues- repeatedly to the cheers and laughter of, one presumes, a largely heterosexual studio audience- is that of a prudish, self-righteous fanatic. Was the New York blackout an "act of God"? No, said Carson, because "Anita Bryant would never have given Him time off."
    • Tom Shales, writing for the Washington Post, as quoted by Anita Bryant, The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality (1977), p. 36
  • The name Anita Bryant is synonymous with homophobic vitriol. Throughout the 1970s, the infamous anti-LGBTQ+ crusader waged a vicious war on LGBTQ+ rights, accusing queer people of corrupting youth through her infamous “Save Our Children” campaign. Now, her granddaughter is marrying a woman. On a July 8 episode of Slate’s One Year podcast, Sarah Green, the daughter of Bryant’s son, Robert Green Jr., opened up about coming out to her grandmother at age 21. On a phone call, Bryant was wishing her happy birthday, Green explained, when she went off on a diatribe about how someday Green would find a suitable husband. “She would not stop talking about the right man coming along, and I just snapped,” Green said, adding that she told her grandmother: 'I hope that he doesn't come along, because I'm gay, and I don't want a man to come along.’” Green’s father, who also spoke on the podcast, remembered Bryant’s reaction of utter shock. “All at once, her eyes widened, her smile opened, and out came the oddest sound: ‘Oh,’” he said.
    But Green’s admission has not seemed to soften Bryant’s heart one bit. “Instead of taking Sarah as she is,” Green’s father added, “my mom has chosen to pray that Sarah will eventually conform to my mom’s idea of what God wants Sarah to be.” Green has been struggling with her relationship with her grandmother ever since. “It’s very hard to argue with someone who thinks that an integral part of your identity is just an evil delusion,” Green said. “She wants a relationship with a person who doesn’t exist because I’m not the person she wants me to be."
  • Before she campaigned across the nation attacking the rights of LGBTQ+ people, Bryant was a pop singer and winner of the 1958 Miss Oklahoma pageant. She launched her notorious “Save Our Children” campaign in response to a historic 1977 gay rights ordinance in Dade County, Fla., which made it one of the first counties to ban employment and housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Bryant’s campaign adopted the mantra, “Homosexuals cannot reproduce, so they must recruit,” championing religious purity and aiming to protect children from supposed anti-Christian values. Bryant’s virulent rhetoric, including in press conferences and commercials, swiftly gained her a national conservative following. Famed televangelist Jerry Falwell Sr. even came to Florida to help her. Bryant’s efforts led Dade County to put its anti-discrimination ordinance up for public vote. A shocking 70% of residents opted to repeal it, making discrimination against LGBTQ+ people legal again in the area. The county restored the ordinance 21 years later, in 1998.
  • Bryant’s success in Dade County led to a host of victories for her campaign around the country and helped make anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs a crux of conservative values. But on a more positive note, a protest against Bryant in 1977 also became a timeless symbol of queer resilience: While speaking to reporters at a Des Moines, Iowa press conference about her anti-gay crusade, activist Tom Higgins famously pied her in the face. Decades later, Bryant’s granddaughter is trying to decide whether to invite her to the wedding. “I think I probably will eventually just call her and ask if she even wants an invitation, because I genuinely do not know how she would respond,” Green said. “I don’t know if she would be offended if I didn’t invite her.”

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