35 Years Ago This Month Anita Bryant Waged War In Dade County, FL – We’ve Not Come A Long Way Baby

Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Jerry Pritikin says:

    Looking back 35 years at the impact that Anita Bryant had on the gay community was withOUT a doubt one of the best thing to happen to our movement… she gave the Gay rights movement, MOVEMENT! She did something that I thought was impossible, she helped to unify almost all the different segments of the gay community! I was living in San Francisco and was a freelance photographer and publicist that specialized in gay clients and businesses. In a span of less then 2 months I was able to get media attention. The first time, when I created the ANITA BRYANT'S HUSBAND IS A HOMO SAPIEN! T-shirt and outed myself nationally, at a time it was not yet fashionable to be openly gay,even in San Francisco via the United Press International wire services. Although I only sold 30 T-shirts, I gave a buck for each of them sold ($5.a shirt)to the coalition fighting her in Dade County Florida. A couple of weeks later, I was able to get get Jane Fonda to wear one at a gay fund raiser and that was picked up by the Associated Press. However, my favorite footnote in Gay history took place on 6/7/77 when she led Dade county Florida voters to rescind a Gay Rights Ordinance. Back in S.F. an impromptu march in response to that election started in the Castro. Harvey Milk showed up with a bullhorn and led the march from the Castro, past City Hall and downtown to Union Square. By the time we reached there, over 5,000 people joined in. Harvey was one of only a few speakers. He warned us if it could happen in Dade County, it could happen elsewhere, including S.F. and told us we have to fight back! I took an photograph of Harvey, a candle in one hand, the bullhorn in the other and a SAVE OUR RIGHTS! sign in the background. When the rally was over, I took my film over to the Associated Press. At first they were not interested. I told them that a local election in Florida could be felt over 1,500 miles away and cause an impromptu march with over 5,000 people was worthy of national news… and they used it. That image introduced Harvey nationally as an openly gay spokesman 5 months before he was elected. It has become iconic over the years. Randy Shilts used it in his book The Mayor of Castro Street. So when you tell the story about Anita Bryant 35 years ago… It reminded me how I got involved. I also gave the moniker "ORANGE TUESDAY" to that event in gay history. I am still active and speak OUT whenever I see injustice toward our gay causes. Thanks for writing about Anita Bryant and the past. Remember then, getting gay stories on the National wire services were rare, and I helped to break those barriers. Today, with the www. it's much easier to fight back. Hope that if your city or town is having a Gay Pride Parade… join in the celebration… it's getting better with each passing day.

What do you think?