Amazon announced it would do an Anita Bryant movie written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Anita Bryant for the younger folk reading this was a 1970’s religious right anti-gay rights activist. She had been a runner up in the in the Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant, charted a few songs as a singer and was the spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission. She had the squeaky clean Christian image everyone loved.

In January of 1977, Dade County passed legislation that prohibited discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, and public services. Bryant, in response to the ordinance, organized the “Save Our Children” campaign.

Bryant began campaigning for the repeal of the ordinance. Her strategy was to paint the LGBT community as a danger to children so, in her speeches; she linked the LGBT community with pedophiles. She claimed that homosexuals practiced recruitment of children and abused and sexually molested children. According to Bryant, “Some of the stories I could tell you of child recruitment and child abuse by homosexuals would turn your stomach.”[1] Bryant’s “Save the Children” smear campaign was successful, and the civil rights protections for LGBT people were overturned.

Bryant took her show on the road and began campaigning for the religious right. However, the LGBT community, reeling in shock, responded with new urgency and organization. Bryant was a rising star among Fundagelicals but was quickly becoming poison to mainstream America. Her singing performances were canceled, and she was dropped as a spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission after gay rights activist organized an orange juice boycott. Older LGBT people may remember the “Anita Bryant Cocktail” served in bars. They were screwdrivers made with apple juice because orange juice was out.

Interestingly enough, in February of 1978, In a New York Times article, Bryant expressed surprise at the reaction against her. “Miss Bryant says she lost every secular booking and was dropped as a commentator for the Orange Bowl television show.” She also said, “Nobody had ever said a bad thing about me in my life,It was hard to understand the viciousness. All of a sudden, nobody would touch me.”

And there it is the Fundagelical blind spot. They can’t understand why people react negatively just because they lie about them. Just because Fundagelicals maliciously claimed homosexuals are pedophiles, in order to instill fear and turn people against gays is no reason to get mad is it? Just because they oppose civil rights and wish to discriminate and oppress a minority in America is no reason to dislike them is it? Fundagelicals can’t understand why people are so intolerant about their lies, slander, bigotry, discrimination, and oppression against minority groups. They are doing it for God after all.

Bryant was surprised by the negative reaction to her lies and bigotry but It wouldn’t be the last time Bryant was surprised.

[1] Kondracke, Morton (1980). “Anita Bryant Is Mad About Gays”, The New Republic, p. 13–14.