Monday, October 14, 2013

Anita Bryant pie incident deserves intelligent analysis

Thirty-six years ago today, anti-gay activist Anita Bryant was struck in the face with a pie during a press conference. Bryant at that time had gained prominence for her successful fight against pro-gay ordinances via vigils, public events, and speeches where she combined her religious belief that homosexuality was a sin with false horror stories about gays raping and "recruiting" children.

 Many folks in my community have cheered the above incident and have talked about how anti-gay activists these days need to have the same thing done to them. Others have actually imitated the pie throwers in their own way with the "glitter bombing" mania a while back.

I'm probably going to get called out and yelled at for this but I despise the above video. Don't get me wrong. When Bryant begins crying while praying for those who hit her with the pie, I really don't feel sorry for her.

But in a general sense, I've always felt that smacking Bryant in the face with a pie was an awful thing to do. And I bristle every time I hear one of us, expressing more of a desire to vent than to be intelligent, start wishing that we go back to physically attacking our opponents.

Some of us want to be all snarky about how Bryant is a "b#!@*" who deserved the pie in the face, but remember this. Bryant not only succeeded in her endeavors (at the cost of her career) but laid the groundwork for the hard road the lgbt community now trods in pursuit of our equality.

You see, Bryant was probably the first to spread lies about the lgbt community under the visage of "religious liberty"  to beat back pro-lgbt laws.  But she wasn't the last. From her tendrils sprung Paul Cameron, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and even the National Organization for Marriage.

And while we cheer Bryant getting hit in the face with a pie, while we plan more acts of public protests, or while we wax nostagically about "zapping" anti-gay activists, that crucial point of our history is being ignored.

We have the unfortunate belief that public incidents of civil disobedience or those designed to attract attention will get us where we need to go. We have to get away from this mindset.

It's time we stop thinking that media attention alone is something we need to aim for. Equality is our goal. Media attention is merely a tactic. Some of us have gotten the tactic mixed up with the goal.

What happened to Bryant 36 years ago must never be imitated by any of us.


Anonymous said...

No physical attack is ever ok. However, in the crazy world we live in, she's lucky it wasn't acid. Actions (and words) have consequences. I'm not excusing the behavior, but I do understand the emotion behind it.

Erica Cook said...

There are times and ways when a physical demonstration has use, like when the glitter bomb were done at the state fair where an anti-gay group was given a booth and the pro-gay rights booth was denied. It made a point without being harmful or destructive. I thin the pie in the face was an important and tactless point in our fight. We made it clear that we weren't going to stand for the abuse any more. How ever, there were less destructive ways to do so that wouldn't have left her the victim.

Anonymous said...

I love watching that clip. Because even as the pie is running off her face she's still being bigoted. It proves that no matter what we do to the bigots, anything short of killing them won't do a damned thing.

And I appreciated the glitterbombing of the past few years too.

Jacqueline Hernandez said...

It's because immediate retaliation feels just so damn good. Our gut reaction to any perceived wrong is violence. But violence begets violence.

We have to remember that there is truth in the pen being mightier than the sword. Pies to the face may give us a cheap thrill, but what after that? Only intelligent discourse and education can help us achieve our goals.

vikingwarbrides said...

I have always felt that when we (the community), do things like that, we are lowering ourselves to their level. Protests had their day back when most of us had to be closeted, but now they actually hurt our message. Also I was never in favor of glitter bombing. Glitter can actually harm someone who inhales it, or gets it into their eyes. Maybe some rainbow confetti or ribbons would be better.

Anonymous said...

I think the cheap thrill of the pie in the face led to more honorable discourse. It was a "wake up, America" moment

Immanuel said...

True, violence does not beget violence. And there are more effective ways to push LGBT rights than a pie in the face, which really didn't change Anita Bryant and probably garnered sympathy for her.

The best bet is to support organizations and politicians that support gay causes and get active in the community. And reach out to young LGBT people who need mentors and support.

And things have gotten much better.Think how far we have come in 36 years.

Marcus99 said...

I'm sorry, but doth not the bible sayeth "...a pie for a pie and a tooth for a tooth?"

They are the ones who cherish literal interpretation of the bible.

Just sayin'....

Know what you mean but luv the clip.LOL

olandp said...

I have to disagree with you on this Alvin. I remember as a teenager, and Floridian, Ms. Bryant's hateful campaign, and when she was pied. I thought, and still think, it was a positive for our community. Her campaign may have spurred the organizations you have listed, but it also united gays and lesbians and straight allies in a way that hadn't happened before. Our gains owe much to Anita and her blatant homophobia.

The fact that she is a con artist and grifter, as she has proven since, leaving destruction and unpaid taxes, bills, and workers in her wake in the years since her campaign, became apparent after she was hit with the pie. Love her comment, "At least it is a fruit pie." Sort of says it all.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Calling that "violence" is an exaggeration. The pie was startling and uncomfortable, and Bryant cried, but she recovered quickly, kept to her frame, and joked about the pie, "It's a fruit pie" and "It's not bad."

This was satiric "violence." Would that the damage done to the lives of gay people be similarly harmful. That would be delicious.

djJackMF said...

That pie was far more symbolic/gesture than violent (particularly compared to what she was doing); and, she cried because in that moment praying to God it occurred to her what a hypocrite she had been, and felt truly humiliated to discover the pie in her face was of her own making. She then immediately buried that newfound self discovery as her narcissism always calls for, and stayed the course. Watch again. Crying was her most sincere moment during the whole video.

Anonymous said...

"I'm probably going to get called out and yelled at for this..."

Maybe you should listen to the voice in your head telling you that you're about to saying something profoundly stupid.

This wasn't "violence": it was a cream pie. It was a symbolic protest, which was necessary to draw attention to a clear and present evil. By wringing your hands over it, you're buying into and parroting the lie that she was a victim, rather than a villain.

And if you think that civil disobedience and stunts to get media attention aren't a *necessary* part of the cause of social justice, then you have learned absolutely nothing from the Civil Rights movement.

BlackTsunami said...

Dear anonymous,

It is in fact an act of violence to strike someone in the face no matter what the object was. Also, I take great offense to your mentioning the Civil Rights movement because no doubt you are alluding to my ethnic heritage. I would strongly suggest that YOU research the Civil Rights Movement so that you can understand that MLK and many other heroes of that era stressed NONVIOLENCE. Anita Bryant was no victim, but that doesn't mean those who opposed her should assault her. It ruins the integrity of what they were fighting for and made them look so desperate for media attention that they would stoop to any level to receive it. Unfortunately that mindset is prevalent today in that too many in our community want media attention so much that they have no idea how to control it when they receive it. Media attention as a means to an end is neither an intelligent nor winning strategy.