Thursday, June 09, 2016

TBT - Anita Bryant rails against gays in 1978

For those too young to remember and the rest of us too old to forget, former beauty queen Anita Bryant was the first to demonstrate the power of anti-lgbt propaganda and stereotypes in legislative fights over lgbt equality. It wasn't just Dade County in Florida where she did this. Bryant undertook a nationwide campaign which saw some success before it eventually collapsed on her. Check out the above clips and note the language and semantics she and her supporters use. See how similar it is to the anti-lgbt propaganda being used now, particularly the invectives thrown against the transgender community.


Brad said...

Wow! That was very hard to watch. I too am old enough to remember that horrible part of American history. It does show how little the bigots have changed their message. In a way, Bryant did the exact opposite of what she set out to do. She helped bring the whole conversation about LGBT rights into the national spotlight. She was hoping that people would be so outraged that they'd shut it all down and put LGBT people back into the shadows and in jail whenever possible. If anything, it accelerated the process by which many people learned that these "militant homosexuals" were actually all around them in their own families and neighborhoods, and most were not that militant. She pushed too hard and ended up ruining her own career and collapsing her "Godly" campaign of hate. I think she also accelerated the exodus of people from organized religion, especially Christianist sects like hers. In my little rural hometown, in 1978, everybody attended one church or another or at least aligned themselves with one. I visited my elderly mother this year and it seems many of those churches have closed and the ones remaining are barely straggling along with tiny congregations. My Mom, bless her heart, is one that rejected one of those awful, hateful congregations, largely because she had a child that had come out to her. Suddenly, one of "those people" was her own son. We as the LGBT community need to continue to come out and keep on countering the hateful screeching messages with calm facts. Your blog does a great service in that regard!

Namowal (Jennifer Bourne) said...

I never considered myself anti-gay, but back in the 1970s, when I was a kid, I envisioned gay people in the same context of those dopey clips. Not the "OMG they'll corrupt society" angle but the "they chose to join a strange society." Then I got older, met gay people, and learned they were, well, just people. Regular folks, not crazy cultists.
I suspect the same thing will happen to trans people. As they become more visible, more cis people will understand that they're just people too.

Erica Cook said...

I hope what Namowal says is true, but there is something really unfortunate about it. There is a difference between the gay lesbian and bisexual community, and the transgender and gender nonconforming community. I don't believe it is so much that we shouldn't consider us one community, but it is something we should take into account when talking about the issues. There is something intrinsically noticeable about the GL&B community. When I date a woman it is obvious I am a woman dating a woman. My desire is to be known and seen without being subjugated. This part of the community's point is to exist open and out. To be known, recognized, and accepted as normal.

A transgender person almost always just wants to live their life with the respect they deserve as the gender they identify as. In large part, transgender people aren't seen because once they transition, they want to just be able to move on and be seen as normal. Unless they married someone who, after transitioning, is the same gender as them, they can just melt into society. This is what they want, and what they deserve. Becoming visible means forgoing that option. They need activists, there's no way around that, but there is a kind of catch 22 for them. People like myself and Alvin (correct me if I'm wrong) want to be out and seen and accepted with people knowing exactly what we are sexually. Transgender people want to get past the part of their life when they are transitioning and move on, but to do so they have to be activists and change laws which forces them to be out in the open, and have their personal lives on display in a way I don't think we in the rest of the community really appreciate.