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social sciences

Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-E  F-L  M-Z

     
Bryant, Anita (b. 1940)  
 
page: 1  2  3  4  5  6  

Gus Van Sant's film Milk (2008) evokes Bryant as the epitome of the anti-gay bigotry of the 1970s. It uses archival news footage of her, including one of her most infamous pronouncements: "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters."

References to Bryant as a synonym for bigotry and homophobia pervade popular culture generally, including on favorite gay television shows such as Will & Grace, Designing Women, and Golden Girls, among many others.

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Conclusion

When on election night in 1977, a jubilant Bryant told her supporters that homosexuals had "learned a lesson," she undoubtedly failed to realize the ironic truth of her statement. While she energized the religious right, which resulted in the foundation of the Christian Coalition and the election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency, she also brought together the gay and lesbian community as never before.

As a minister observed at Houston's Gay Pride parade in 1978, "It took Anita Bryant to bring this many of our brothers and sisters out of their closets. And after tonight, they'll never return. God works in mysterious ways."

There is something undeniably sad about the wreckage that Anita Bryant made of her successful career and apparently happy life, and perhaps even more about her continuing refusal to recognize the damage she did to others. Despite her spectacular fall, however, she reveals too little self-knowledge to be seen as a tragic figure. Still, insofar as the implosion of her career is some evidence of the country's rejection of the raw bigotry that she came to personify, the Anita Bryant story is by no means entirely negative.

Nikolai Endres

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    Bibliography
   

Anita Bryant Ministries International (2006): http://www.anitabmi.org/3.html

Bernstein, Mary. "Identities and Politics: Toward a Historical Understanding of the Lesbian and Gay Movement." Social Science History 26.3 (2002): 531-81.

Bryant, Anita. The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of Our Nation's Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1977.

_____. A New Day. Nashville: Broadman, 1992.

_____, and Bob Green. At Any Cost. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1978.

Clendinen, Dudley, and Adam Nagourney. Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999.

Fetner, Tina. "Working Anita Bryant: The Impact of Christian Anti-Gay Activism on Lesbian and Gay Movement Claims." Social Problems 48 (August 2001): 411-28.

Fejes, Fred. Gay Rights and Moral Panic: The Origins of America's Debate on Homosexuality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Jahr, Cliff. "Anita Bryant's Startling Reversal." Ladies' Home Journal 97 (December 1980): 60-68.

Kelley, Ken. "Playboy Interview: Anita Bryant." Playboy (May 1978): 73-96, 232-50.

Loughery, John. The Other Side of Silence: Men's Lives and Gay Identities, A Twentieth-Century History. New York: Holt, 1998.

McCreery, Patrick. "Save Our Children/Let Us Marry: Gay Activists Appropriate the Rhetoric of Child Protectionism." Radical History Review 100 (Winter 2008): 186-207.

Rutledge, Leigh W. The Gay Decades, From Stonewall to the Present: The People and Events that Shaped Gay Lives. New York: Plume, 1992.

Samar, Vincent J., ed. The New York Times Twentieth Century in Review: The Gay Rights Movement. Andrew Sullivan, intro. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Tobin, Thomas C. "Bankruptcy, Ill Will Plague Bryant." St. Petersburg Times (April 28, 2002): http://www.stpetersburgtimes.com/2002/04/28/State/Bankruptcy__ill_will_.shtml

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Endres, Nikolai  
    Entry Title: Bryant, Anita  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2009  
    Date Last Updated April 15, 2011  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/bryant_anita.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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Chicago, IL   60607
 
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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