Tag Archives: Anita Bryant

Gay History – June 16, 1990: Queer Nation “Takes Back The Night”, Activist Michelangelo Signorile Arrested.

June 16th. 1990

The newly formed activist group Queer Nation holds a Take Back the Night march in New York, protesting hate crimes against gays.

Over 1,000 people attend.

Via the NY Times,  June 18, 1990:

What began as a peaceful march through Greenwich Village late Saturday night to protest violence against homosexuals broke up into clashes, chases and threats early yesterday morning when hecklers taunted demonstrators as the march drew toward its conclusion.

 In one incident, about 1,000 advocates of gay rights were walking along Broadway about 1 A.M., carrying a black and white banner that read “Queers Take Back the Night”‘ when some spectators yelled anti-gay remarks at the crowd.  More than 50 marchers chased the men down Astor Place and around the corner to Ninth Street.  Police officers on foot and officers riding motor scooters on sidewalks also pursued the hecklers. Demonstrators said that three men ran away and that two or three other men sought refuge in an apartment building on Ninth Street. The police guarded the building, the Randall House, as an angry crowd taunted them and demanded that the men be arrested.

“This shows graphically the type of problems we face,” said Gary Konecky, a 33-year-old accountant from Bellerose, L.I., who was one of those chasing the men. “I have no idea what would have happened if we caught them.” “They exacerbated the situation by charging at the person when someone called them names,” said Deputy Inspector Charles Campisi, commander of the Sixth Precinct, who walked in front of the crowd during the four-hour march. “It was a long, tough night.”

The crowd resumed marching when the police, who apparently used another exit to leave with the men, stopped guarding the building. When the Randall House doorman was asked where the police took the men, he pointed toward the basement. The police said no charges were brought as a result of the incident.

The march was organized by Queer Nation, a group formed in March to protest anti-gay violence against homosexuals and to draw more attention to the rights of homosexuals and lesbians.

At 11:20 P.M., about 20 demonstrators rushed at former Mayor Edward I. Koch, shouting “Shame! Shame!” after he walked past the march near Eighth Street with two bodyguards on his way back from seeing the movie “Dick Tracy.” A dozen police officers encircled him and rushed him safely into his apartment. “I would say I was startled, certainly not frightened,” Mr. Koch said later in a telephone interview. “I haven’t been subject to this kind of demonstration or action or invective since I left the mayoralty.”

 A spokesman for the sponsoring group, Scott Gorenstein, said: “For years we’ve been trying to get that man’s attention. Tonight we did.” 

 Inspector Campisi said there were six arrests during the march. Three men were arrested and charged with menacing, aggravated harassment and illegal weapon possession after the police said they were brandishing weapons and taunting homosexuals on Bleecker Street between Grove and Christopher Streets at 2:25 A.M. after the march broke up.  Arrested were Alija Dokovic, 21 years old, of 1050 39th Street, Brooklyn, who the police said had a golf club; Jose Cruz, 16 years old, of 3207 Eighth Avenue of Brooklyn, who was said to have had a baseball bat, and Steven Mendez, 18 years old, of 926 47th Street, Brooklyn, who the police said had a folding knife. All three are from the Borough Park section.

Inspector Campisi said three marchers were arrested on disorderly-conduct charges, issued summonses and released. Mr. Gorenstein, the spokesman for the group, said he only knew of two marchers being arrested: Michelangelo Signorile, 29, a writer, and Lori Cohen, a lawyer, whose age was not available. Mr. Gorenstein said they argued with police officers after the clash on Broadway. – End Article

 

GAY HISTORY 101

Queer Nation is an LGBT activist organization founded in March 1990 in New York City, by HIV/AIDS activists from ACT UP. The four founders were outraged at the escalation of anti-gay and lesbian violence on the streets and prejudice in the arts and media. The group is known for its confrontational tactics, its slogans, and the practice of outing.

Here are some of Queer Nation’s first actions:

  • April 20, 1990:  Queer Nation members show up en masse at Macy’s department store where Olympic gold medallist Greg Louganis is promoting a new swimsuit line. Queers arrive with WHEATIES cereal boxes with swimmer’s picture pasted on front, to recall the time the cereal maker rejected Louganis as a spokesperson, ostensibly because he is gay.
  • April 26, 1990:  Responding to the 120% increase in violence against gays and lesbians, Queer Nationals climb the billboard on the roof of Badlands, a Greenwich Village bar and hangs a 40-foot banner that reads: “Dykes and Fags Bash Back!”
  • April 28, 1990:  A pipe bomb explodes in Uncle Charlie’s, a Greenwich Village gay bar, injuring three. In protest, Queer Nation mobilizes 1000 gays and lesbians in a matter of hours. Angry marchers fill the streets, carrying the banner “Dykes and Fags Bash Back.”
  • May 12, 1997: The inauguration of “Queer Shopping Network.” Members of Queer Nation travel from New York City to the Newport Mall in Jersey City with leaflets offering information about queers, safe sex tips, and a list of famous queers throughout history. The leaflets are titled “We’re here, we’re queer and we’d like to say hello!”

Happy Anniversary Signorile !

HARVEY MILK DAY - Long Lost Photos of Harvey Milk Unearthed

HARVEY MILK DAY – Long Lost Photos of Harvey Milk Unearthed

Long lost photos of Harvey Milk debating, Republican state Sen. John Briggs of Orange County,  on Sept. 15, 1978  at Northgate High School over the Briggs Initiative — a state proposition that would have made it mandatory for school boards to fire openly gay and lesbian teachers have been unearthed.

The photos below were found and published almost 40 years later by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Also called California Proposition 6 the initiative was on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978 The Briggs Initiative was the first failure in a movement that started with the successful campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida, to repeal a local gay rights ordinance.

A diverse group of politicians including (shockingly) Ronald ReaganJerry BrownGerald Ford, United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez, Giants owner Bob Lurie and then-president Jimmy Carter all opposed the bill.

At the debate Harvey Milk dismantled each of Briggs’ arguments with facts and shamed the senator for his most archaic talking points.

You normal people — who have a family, who have children — do you want a sexually disoriented person teaching your children?” Briggs asked, to hisses and boos from the audience..

Milk countered: “Child molesters are heterosexual, rapists are heterosexual. … Most murderers are heterosexual. Do you want those people teaching your children? You’re lying through your teeth and you know it.”

At one point, Milk asked Briggs who should be allowed to counsel a gay boy at a public high school such as Northgate.

“I would like him to go to a preacher,” Briggs responded, “or a pastor or a psychologist who could lead him out of that.”

Chronicle photographer John Storey who attended the event took dozens of pictures that were never published.

The recently discovered images, reveal a dramatic and oddly staged event. Milk and Briggs sat on school-issued chairs in the middle of the Northgate High basketball court, facing a handful of media members. The audience, made up of community members young and old, sat in the bleachers on the side.

The Briggs Initiative was soundly defeated on Nov. 7, 1978, losing by more than a million votes.

Thank you Harvey.

CALL TO ACTION: PROTEST FL Gov Ron DeSantis at Chelsea Piers NYC - Sunday June 12 @ 1:30PM - 22nd St. and 12th Ave

BREAKING: Florida GOP Gov Ron DeSantis Signs Don’t Say Gay Into Law

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed the state’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill – known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill – into law. It will take effect July 1 thus sending Florida back in time almost 40 years to Anita Bryan’s “Save The Children Campaign.”

The governor, standing behind a podium reading “Protect Children” and “Support Parents,” also claimed to have found at least six school districts in Florida had policies to “cut parents out of decisions regarding their child’s well being.

Under the now-law, Instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity will be restricted in the state’s primary schools. Educators of all grade levels are prohibited from engaging in instruction on those topics in a manner that is not “age appropriate or developmentally appropriate” for children.

This law doesn’t solve any problem that currently or has existed in Florida. Instead, HB 1557 was introduced and has weaponized by the Governor’s office to launch a bigoted smear campaign to attack and defame Lesbian and Gay Americans with baseless accusations of grooming and pedophilia. The bill’s intentionally vague language leaves teachers afraid to talk to their students and opens up school districts to costly and frivolous litigation from those seeking to exclude LGBT people from any grade.

And everyone please remember to thank the Walt Disney Company for throwing us all under the bus for a few dollars.

Billboards saying “gay” placed all over Florida in protest against Don't  Say Gay bill • GCN
UPDATE: Disney’s “Don’t Say Gay” Debacle 3/12/22 – Disney CEO Bob Chapek Apologizes AGAIN - CHAPEK MUST RESIGN

UPDATE: Disney’s “Don’t Say Gay” Debacle 3/12/22 – Disney CEO Bob Chapek Apologizes AGAIN – CHAPEK MUST RESIGN

It’s been a long hard week for the LGBT community, Disney CEO Bob Chapek and the The Walt Disney Company itself as it faced major backlash from not only all over the country but the world after Disney’s abandonment of LGBT American’s. Not only was Disney was caught making donations to rabidly anti-LGBT Republican Florida Senators but also the company which has claimed a strong allyship to the LGBT community DID NOT SPEAK OUT and remained purposely silent as the states “Don’t Say Gay Bill” passed both chambers and sits on DeSantis’ desk, waiting to be signed and sends LGBT rights back in Florida over 40 years to the time of Anita Bryant and the “Save The Children Campaign”.

So what does Disney CEO Bob Chapek have to say? “He’s sorry:”

“It is clear that this is not just an issue about a bill in Florida, but instead yet another challenge to basic human rights. You needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights and I let you down. I am sorry,” Chapek said in the letter, which was published on Disney’s website.

“We are hard at work creating a new framework for our political giving that will ensure our advocacy better reflects our values. I am committed to this work and to you all, and will continue to engage with the LGBTQ+ community so that I can become a better ally,” he added. “You will hear more about our progress in the coming weeks.”

Quite simply: Apology not accepted and Bob Chapek MUST RESIGN.

Chapek’s inaction and obvious games trying to play both sides for maximum return not only blew up in Disney’s face but also harms harms thousands of thousands of LGBT American’s if not more . Other ed states are now planning the same such bills now that it passed easily in Florida thanks to Disney’s non-interference. And make no mistake that if Disney and Chapek would have taken a strong stance against the DSGB it would have never passed.

Disney has harmed the very people that for decades it has claimed to have supported. Disney and Chapek must think that a few Gay Days and some rainbow mouse ears is all it takes to be an LGBT ally.

It’s not.

Bob Chapek MUST RESIGN as CEO of Disney immediately.

Sign the petition HERE to Fire Disney CEO Bob Chapek

Gay History – January 18: The Gay King of America, Anita Bryant Wants to “Save The Children” and An American Family

Today in Gay History – January 18th.

1726, Germany – The man who might have been the first gay king of America was born in Berlin. Prince Heinrich of Prussia (pictured right above) was the brother of Frederick the Great who tried have him made King of America. The fledgling US even considered it during the period ruing the Article of Confederation, but, by the time the fickle prince agreed, the equally fickle American public had opted for the Constitution and a republic.

While it might seem far-fetched that a Prussian man would be accepted by the American people as their leader, it must be recalled that without the military leadership of the Prussian Baron von Steuben, our continental army would likely not have prevailed against the British. 

Three of Prince Heinrich’s affairs with younger men are documented: the 17-year-old French émigré Count of Roche-Aymon, Major Christian Ludwig von Kaphengst (1743-1800) and an actor known as Blainville.  

1928 – Betty Berzon (January 18, 1928 – January 24, 2006) is born. She was an American author and psychotherapist known for her work with the gay and lesbian communities. She was among the first psychotherapists to assist gay clients. After coming out as lesbian in 1968, she began providing therapy to gays and lesbians. In 1971, during a UCLA conference called “The Homosexual in America,” Berzon became the first psychotherapist in the country to come out as gay to the public. Also in 1971, she organized the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center as well as an organization of gays and lesbians within the American Psychiatric Association (the Gay Psychological Association, now known as the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues); the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental illness two years later. She is survived by Teresa DeCrescenzo, the president of Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, whom Berzon met in 1973 and married during a mass wedding ceremony at the 1993 March on Washington.

In 2007, Ventura Place in Studio City was renamed Dr. Betty Berzon Place in her honor, making it the first street ever officially dedicated to a known lesbian in California. Also in 2007, the LGBT magazine The Advocate named Berzon one of 40 “heroes.” The Betty Berzon Papers (1928-2006) are at the ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives.

1936 – Rev. James Lewis Stoll (January 18, 1936 – December 8, 1994) is born. In 1969, he becomes the first ordained minister of an established denomination to come out as gay. He led the effort that convinced the Unitarian Universalist Association to pass their first gay rights resolution.

1958 – Marci Lee Bowers (born January 18, 1958) is a US gynecologist and surgeon who specializes in gender confirmation surgeries. Dr. Bowers’ practice is at the San Mateo Surgery Center in Burlingame, California. From 2003 to 2010, she practiced in the town of Trinidad, Colorado, where she had studied under Stanley Biber before his retirement. Bowers married eleven years prior to her surgery, and remains married to her female spouse.

1973 – Viewers of An American Family 12-part television documentary shown on PBS about the lives of an “average” American family, the Louds, discover that son Lance (June 26, 1951 – December 22, 2001) is living as an openly gay man in New York City. Lance was an American television personality, magazine columnist and new wave rock-n-roll performer.

Lance Loud died of liver failure as a result of hepatitis C and a co-infection with HIV in 2001. He was 50 years old.

1975, Canada – The founding conference of the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO) opens at Don Vale Community Center in Toronto. 

1977 – In Miami, Florida: Anita Bryant, a former beauty queen, launches a nationwide crusade against gay and lesbian rights in response to Dade County’s new municipal rights ordinance forbidding housing and employment discrimination against lesbians and gay men. Accusing lesbians and gay men of corrupting the nation’s youth, Bryant dubs her crusade the “Save Our Children” campaign. Miami-Dade County commissioners passed the ordinance with a vote of 5-3. Anita Bryant vows to defeat the ordinance at the ballot box. On June 7, 1977, Bryant’s hateful promise is fulfilled. Nearly 70 percent of voters opt to repeal the ordinance.

1996 – The wedding of Ross’s ex-wife Carol and her girlfriend Susan airs on Friends. Candace Gingrich (born June 2, 1966) guest stars as the minister. Candace is an American LGBT rights activist at the Human Rights Campaign. She is the half-sister of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who is more than 20 years their senior.

1999, Zimbabwe – the first president of Zimbabwe, Canaan Sodindo Banana (5 March 1936 – 10 November 2003), already retired from the post, is convicted on 11 counts of sodomy. At the time, president Mugabe is scapegoating homosexuals as the reason for Zimbabwe’s ills. Banana serves six months of a 10-year sentence and moves to the UK for political asylum.

2004 – The L Word premieres on Showtime. The L Word is an American/Canadian co-production television drama series portraying the lives of a group of lesbians and their friends, connections, family, and lovers in the trendy Greater Los Angeles, California city of West Hollywood. The series originally ran on Showtime from January 18, 2004 to March 8, 2009, and subsequently in syndication on Logo and through on-demand services. 

Today in Gay History – January 1st: Hoover, Haines, Orton, and Sodomy Laws Fall Over The Years

 

Hold on tight………..

January 1, 1801 – Ireland was added to Great Britain by an Act of Union thus creating the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It also put Ireland, and today, Northern Ireland under British laws on morality and particularly homosexuality.

January 1, 1879 – E. M. Forster (1879 – 1970) is born in London. After his brilliant novel “A Passage to India” in 1924, he produced no new works. His gay novel “Maurice” was written in 1914, but not published until after his death. For 50 years his lover was a married London policeman named Bob Buckingham.

January 1, 1886 – English Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 takes effect. “Indecencies” between adult males in private become a crime punishable by up to two years imprisonment.

January 1, 1892 – Ellis Island in New York harbor opened. Over 20 million new arrivals to America were processed until its closing in 1954. It is unknown how many of the new immigrants were gays and lesbians. Some estimates are as high as 1 million (This is lower than 10% since most of those admitted to the US were families not that THAT really makes a difference.)

January 1, 1895 – J. Edgar Hoover is born in Washington. Hoover led a deeply repressed sexual life, living with his mother until he was 40, awkwardly rejecting the attention of women and pouring his emotional, and at times, physical attention on his handsome deputy at the FBI.  What exactly was his relationship with his ever constant companion and fellow FBI man Clyde Tolson? There has been a lot of speculation but no documentation. Still there are numerous stories of Hoover appearing in drag in New York. Usually in a red dress, and he liked to be called “Mary”.

January 1, 1900 – Silent movie star William Haines is born in Staunton, Virginia. His good looks and baby face made him a hit playing the wisecracking penniless young man in countless films. Blessed with a good voice, he was one of the few silent stars to make the transition to talkies.

In 1933, Haines was arrested in a YMCA with a sailor he had picked up in Los Angeles’ Pershing Square. Louis B. Mayer, the studio head at MGM, delivered an ultimatum to Haines: Choose between a sham marriage (also known as a “lavender marriage”) or his relationship with Shields. Haines chose Shields and they remained together for almost 50 years.  Mayer subsequently fired Haines and terminated his contract.  He made a few minor films at Poverty Row studios, then retired from acting. His final films were made with Mascot Pictures, Young and Beautiful and The Marines Are Coming in 1934.

Haines never returned to acting, but continued to receive offers for film roles. During production of Sunset Boulevard (1950), Haines was offered a cameo role in the film, which he declined. He later said, “It’s a rather pleasant feeling of being away from pictures and being part of them because all my friends are. I can see the nice side of them without seeing the ugly side of the studios.

Haines started a successful interior design business with his life partner Jimmie Shields, and was supported by friends in Hollywood most notably Joan Crawford.

Haines died of lung cancer in December 1973 at the age of 73.

January 1, 1901 – The Commonwealth of Australia was founded as six former British colonies became six states with Edmund Barton as the first prime minister, and Canberra as the capital. Today, Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, has one of the world’s largest gay communities. It’s annual Mardi Gras celebrations draw nearly a million a people from all over the globe.

January 1, 1933 – John Kingsley was born in Leicester, England. Writing under the name Joe Orton he became of Britain’s most popular comic playwrights (Entertaining Mr Sloane in 1964 and Loot in 1966). He was murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell who then committed suicide in the London flat they had occupied for 15 years. In 1967 he had written in his diary “I have high hopes of dying in my prime.”  (Orton documentary embedded below.)

January 1, 1959 – Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba after leading a revolution that drove out dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro then established a Communist dictatorship. Although homosexuality was illegal under the Batista government the laws were largely ignored in fun loving Cuba. Since Castro, tens of thousands of gays have been rounded up and imprisoned.

January 1, 1971 – Colorado decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1971 – Oregon decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1972 – Science magazine publishes a report that suggests male homosexuality may be determined in the womb due to chemical and/or hormonal stress of the pregnant woman.

January 1, 1972 – Hawaii decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1974 – Ohio repeals its sodomy laws and decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1975 – New Mexico decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1976 – Iowa decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1977 – Vermont decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1978 – Good Housekeeping readers name Anita Bryant “The Most Admired Woman in America.”

January 1, 1978 – North Dakota decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

January 1, 1980 – Arizona decriminalizes private consensual adult homosexual acts.

WATCH:  A Genius Like Us: A Portrait of Joe Orton, a 70-minute BBC Arena documentary from 1982.

Gay History – November 7, 1978: California’s Prop 6 aka The Briggs Initiative Against Gay Teachers Defeated

California’s Proposition 6 was an initiative on the California State ballot on November 7, 1978.  More commonly known as The Briggs Initiative, sponsored by John Briggs, a conservative state legislator from Orange County. The failed initiative would have banned gays and lesbians, and possibly anyone who supported gay rights, from working in California’s public schools.

The Briggs Initiative came on the heels of successful anti-gay campaign headed by Anita Bryant and her organization Save Our Children in Dade County, Florida, to repeal it’s local gay rights ordinance.

The initiative provided that a public school teacher, teacher’s aide, administrator, or counselor could be fired if the employee was found to have engaged in either (1) “public homosexual activity,” which the initiative defined as an act of homosexual sex which was “not discreet and not practiced in private, whether or not such act, at the time of its commission, constituted a crime,” or (2) “public homosexual conduct,” which the initiative defined as “the advocating, soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting of private or public homosexual activity directed at, or likely to come to the attention of, schoolchildren and/or other employees.”

The employee would be terminated if the school board, after a hearing, determined by a preponderance of the evidence that the employee had engaged in “public homosexual activity” or “public homosexual conduct” and “that said activity or conduct render[ed] the employee unfit for service. The factors that the board would consider in the determination of “unfitness for service” would “include, but not be limited to: (1) the likelihood that the activity or conduct may adversely affect students or other employees; (2) the proximity or remoteness in time or location of the conduct to the employee’s responsibilities; (3) the extenuating or aggravating circumstances which, in the judgment of the board, must be examined in weighing the evidence; and (4) whether the conduct included acts, words or deeds, of a continuing or comprehensive nature which would tend to encourage, promote or dispose schoolchildren toward private or public homosexual activity or private or public homosexual conduct.”

The initiative further provided that a person could not be hired as a public school teacher, teacher’s aide, administrator, or counselor if the person had “engaged in public homosexual activity or public homosexual conduct should the board determine that said activity or conduct render[ed] the person unfit for service

San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk along with a coalition of gay and lesbian activists including including Sally Gearhart, Bill Kraus, Tom Ammiano, and Hank Wilson mobilized under the slogan “Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!” and worked fiercely to defeat the initiative. Gay men and lesbians went door to door in their cities and towns across the state to fight and to talk about the harm the initiative would cause.

In the beginning of September, the ballot measure was ahead in public-opinion polls, with about 61% of voters supporting it while 31% opposed it. The movement against it initially succeeded little in shifting public opinion, even though major organizations and ecclesiastical groups opposed it.

A diverse group of politicians opposed the bill including Jerry Brown, Gerald Ford, then-president Jimmy Carter who publicly opposed the bill, citing its potential infringement on individual rights.

Surprisingly the former state Governor of California and later US President Ronald Reagan (who would later go down in gay history as murderous villain during the AIDS Crisis) Ronald Reagan moved to publicly oppose the measure. Reagan issued an informal letter of opposition to the initiative, a week before the election

Reagan’s November 1 editorial stated, in part, “Whatever else it is, homosexuality is not a contagious disease like the measles. Prevailing scientific opinion is that an individual’s sexuality is determined at a very early age and that a child’s teachers do not really influence this.” 

It is not known if Carter’s or Reagan’s involvement is what helped sway the final vote but the Briggs Initiative was defeated by over a million votes on November 7, 1978. 

Briggs’s own Orange County, a conservative stronghold voted against the initiative.

In 2008 (the same year MILK came out and in which he was featured) Briggs stated  he was not an “intolerant person.” He stated that he continued to regard singer Anita Bryant as “a hero,” but he also said that, “with the passage of over thirty years, America has changed — including me.  Briggs went on to say that he and his wife “not only stood for our principles, but fought for principles as we then saw them.” But he also said that the 1970’s and 1980’s were “a much different America,” in which “President Reagan and the country shamefully neglected the AIDS epidemic causing the deaths of thousands.”

Below see long lost photos of Harvey Milk debating, Republican state Sen. John Briggs of Orange County,  on Sept. 15, 1978, at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek. over the Briggs Initiative 

Long Lost Photos of Harvey Milk Unearthed

Gay History Month – October 14, 1977: Anita Bryant Hit In The Face With A “Fruit Pie” and it’s Still Delicious! [Updated 10/14/2021]

Today marks one of the most iconic moments in gay history when a gay male activist threw a pie in the face of one of the most evil homophobes in America, Anita Bryant.

On October 14, 1977, at press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, while reporters were questioning  Bryant about her national crusade against homosexuals, gay rights activist Tom Higgins threw a pie in Bryant’s face, which caused Bryant to comment “At least it was a fruit pie” before praying for Higgins and breaking down in tears.

Bryant an American singer, former beauty queen, and pitch-woman for companies like Coke and Florida Orange Juice  started the venomous ‘Save Our Children’ campaign against homosexuals in Dade County, Florida which spread throughout the nation and led to an upswing in violent attacks, including murder, against gay men and resulted in numerous cities denying or retracting gay and lesbian civil rights ordinances

In 1977 Bryant said:

“What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life. I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before.  As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children” and “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.” She also added that “All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God’s continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation.

On June 7, 1977, Bryant’s campaign led to a repeal of the anti-discrimination ordinance in Dade County, FL by a margin of 69 to 31 percent. The gay community retaliated against Bryant by organizing a boycott of Florida orange juice which she was a spokeswoman for. Gay bars all over North America took screwdrivers off their drink menus and replaced them with the “Anita Bryant”, which was made with vodka and apple juice.  Sales and proceeds went to gay civil rights activists and organizations to help fund their fight against Bryant and her campaign.

Bryant led several more campaigns around the country to repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances including St. Paul, Minnesota; Wichita, Kansas; and Eugene, Oregon. Her success led to an effort to pass the Briggs Initiative in California which would have made pro or neutral statements regarding homosexuals or homosexuality by any public school employee cause for dismissal. Grass-roots liberal organizations, chiefly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area thanks to Harvey Milk, sprang up to defeat the initiative.

After the “pieing incident” the Florida orange juice boycott become more prominent and it was supported by many celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Paul Williams, John Waters, Carroll O’Connor, Mary Tyler Moore and Jane Fonda.

The fallout from the gay community and it’s supporters ruined Bryant. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy, her marriage to her first husband Bob Green failed at that time, and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abusiveness and latent suicidal thoughts. Even the fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her after her divorce as she was no longer invited to appear at their events and she lost another major source of income. With her four children, Bryant moved from Miami to Selma, Alabama, and later to Atlanta, Georgia where she still lives today.

In June of 2010 smelling the money of the anti-LGBT groups of today  Bryant returned to her roots and appeared at an anti-gay, anti atheist, and anti Muslim event sponsored by “Reclaiming America For Christ”

The unsung hero who threw the infamous pie, lifetime gay activist Thom Higgins was a founding member and officer of several gay organizations, including FREE (Fight Repression of Erotic
Expression), The Gay Imperative, and the Church of the Chosen People, a gay pagan religion established in 1975. He was also a member of Target City Coalition and the Cuban Refugee Task Force of Positively Gay.

Thom Higgins passed away November 10, 1994, in St. Paul, Minnesota.

UPDATE 10/14/2021

Gay History- June 19, 1983: Founder of the Moral Majority Jerry Falwell: “AIDS Is God’s Punishment For Homosexuals.”

June 19, 1983 – In Lynchburg, Virginia, hate-monger Jerry Falwell told his followers that “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals, it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.”

Falwell founded Lynchburg Christian Academy (now Liberty Christian Academy) in 1967 and Liberty University in 1971 and co-founded the Moral Majority in 1979 which was the beginning of the LGBT hate groups of the day suck as the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and the American Family Association .

By 1975, the Internal Revenue Service moved to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, which forbade interracial dating (blacks had been denied entry until 1971). The decisions infuriated Falwell. “In some states it’s easier to open a massage parlor than to open a Christian school”, Falwell complained.

On his evangelist program The Old-Time Gospel Hour in the mid 1960s, Falwell regularly featured segregationist politicians like Lester Maddox and George Wallace. About Martin Luther King he said: “I do question the sincerity and nonviolent intentions of some civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mr. James Farmer, and others, who are known to have left wing associations.”

In speaking of the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, he said, in 1958:

“If Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never had been made. The facilities should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

In 1977, Falwell supported Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” campaign, to overturn an ordinance in Dade County, Florida prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In urging the repeal of the ordinance, Falwell told one crowd, “Gay folks would just as soon kill you as look at you. Falwell also  supported the similar “Brigg’s Initiative” that Harvey Milk helped defeat in California.

The Moral Majority became one of the largest political lobby groups for evangelical Christians in the United States during the 1980s. The Moral Majority was promoted as being “pro-life”, “pro-traditional family”, “pro-moral” and “pro-American” and was credited with delivering two thirds of the white, evangelical Christian vote to Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential election. It is believed that Falwell’s close ties to Reagan also directly contributed to the Reagan administrations refusal to recognize AIDS.

Falwell also regularly linked the AIDS pandemic to gay issues.  Among his many remarks over the years he is probably most known for statements attributed to him about a Teletubby being a homosexual role model for homosexual recruitment and stating that LGBT organizations angered God, thereby in part causing God to let the September 11 attacks happen .

In early 2005, Falwell was hospitalized with a viral infection, discharged, and then hospitalized again on May 30, 2005, in respiratory arrest. President George W. Bush contacted Falwell to “wish him well”.

On May 15, 2007, Falwell was found without pulse and unconscious in his office at about 10:45 a.m., after he missed a morning appointment, and was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital. “I had breakfast with him, and he was fine at breakfast…He went to his office, I went to mine and they found him unresponsive” said Ron Godwin, the executive vice president of Falwell’s Liberty University. His condition was initially reported as “gravely serious”; CPR was administered unsuccessfully.

Christopher Hitchens  described Falwell as aa “faith-based fraud.” Hitchens took special umbrage with declaration that 9/11 represented God’s judgment on America’s sinful behavior; deeming it “extraordinary that not even such a scandalous career is enough to shake our dumb addiction to the ‘faith-based.'”  Appearing on CNN a day after Falwell’s death, Hitchens said:

The empty life of this ugly little charlatan proves only one thing: that you can get away with the most extraordinary offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will just get yourself called ‘reverend’.”

On C-SPAN, Hitchens made the comment that “If Falwell had been given an enema before his death, he could have been buried in a matchbox.