I remember Anita Bryant!


She was an attractive pop-singer in the 1970s who became the face of intolerant homophobia. I don’t remember any of her songs, but I sure remember how much she was a running joke among the kinds of liberal hippies I hung out with.

(Oh, right, the “your watch is on backwards” thing. You see, back in the Old Days, we wore timepieces called “watches” on our wrist, and most normal people wore them with the face on the dorsal side, so you’d hold your arm straight out to see the time; some people wore them with the face on the ventral side, so you’d bend your wrist back when you wanted to know what time it is. This is a difficult difference to grasp for people who may not know what a watch is.)

But really, I did not know anyone who didn’t think Anita Bryant was a creepy fanatic. She had her fans, obviously, but she was equivalent of a TERF nowadays — yeah, she has her following, she was promoting awful laws, but we were sure she was on the wrong side of history. It’s nice to see that confirmed.

She’s an old lady of 81 now, still just as rigid in her thinking (definitely not a cool grandma), and still a committed homophobe. It’s satisfying to know that she lived long enough to see her granddaughter, Sarah Green, come out to her face.

Toward the end, Green talks about her relationship with Bryant, who was a doting grandmother; Green says she once thought Bryant didn’t really hate LGBTQ+ people, but she started to look at her grandmother differently when Green realized as a teen that she herself was gay.

She had no intention of coming out to Bryant, but she was spurred to do so on her 21st birthday. Bryant sang “Happy Birthday” to her granddaughter on the phone and told her that if she had faith, the right man would come along. “And I just snapped and was like, ‘I hope that he doesn’t come along, because I’m gay, and I don’t want a man to come along,’” Green recalls.

Bryant responded by telling Green that homosexuality is a delusion invented by the devil and that her granddaughter should focus on loving God, because that would make her realize she’s straight.

“It’s very hard to argue with someone who thinks that an integral part of your identity is just an evil delusion,” Green says.

And now Sarah Green has had the joy of announcing her engagement to another young woman!

Bryant knows Sarah is engaged to a woman, said Robert Green Jr., Sarah Green’s father and Bryant’s son, says on the podcast. When he told his mother, he notes, “All at once, her eyes widened, her smile opened, and out came the oddest sound: ‘Oh.’ Instead of taking Sarah as she is, my mom has chosen to pray that Sarah will eventually conform to my mom’s idea of what God wants Sarah to be.”

Sarah Green says she doesn’t hate Bryant but feels sorry for her. “I just kind of feel bad for her,” she says. “And I think as much as she hopes that I will figure things out and come back to God, I kind of hope that she’ll figure things out.”

That’s even better than a pie in the face.

(Also cool: “four young homosexuals from Minneapolis” were responsible.)

Comments

  1. smeghead says

    Do I really see ‘Being polite to policemen’ listed as a Deadly Sin of Homosexuality?

    OH THE IRONY.

  2. raven says

    I also know who she is.
    It’s a Boomer thing.

    I saw the article about her granddaughter and laughed more than any time since the pandemic started.

  3. christoph says

    I remember her, but not as a singer. I remember her mostly as doing commercials for orange juice. She was almost fanatical about it being “not just for breakfast.”

  4. imback says

    #1, I think that flyer is probably satire. It says

    If you’ve answered yes to one or more of these question, then chances are you are a homosexual.

    SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF HOMOSEXUALITY

    1. Carrying your books funny
    2. Short-sleeve shirts
    3. Spending too much time with girls
    4. Wearing wristwatch backwards
    5. Being careful with parents, car
    6. Yoga
    7. Being polite to policemen

  5. says

    You forgot the horrible Florida Orange Juice commercials…

    I always found the “wrong-way with the watch” thing amusing, because it’s required of supervisors in certain kinds of work environments if wearing a watch is allowed at all (even with a break-free wristband). At that time, it was hard to imagine a more macho assignment than supervising manly men doing manly maintenance on manly military aircraft (with manly munitions). And although officers didn’t handle the bombs or the wrenches, just being in the area where the maintenance was being done required complying with OSHA standards that also applied to a lot of civilian jobs; if the boss went onto a factory floor, the boss had to wear his hard hat and turn his watch “the wrong way.” (Back in those days, it was still definitely “his,” with very, very rare exceptions who were constantly subject to harassment.)

  6. raven says

    Wikipedia Anita Bryant

    She is also the 1958 Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and was a brand ambassador from 1969 to 1980 for the Florida Citrus Commission.[2]

    Career decline and bankruptcies
    The fallout from Bryant’s political activism hurt her business and entertainment career.[3] In February 1977, the Singer Corporation rescinded an offer to sponsor a possible weekly variety show because of the “extensive national publicity arising from [Bryant’s] controversial political activities.”[35]

    Bryant’s marriage to Bob Green also failed at that time, and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abuse and latent suicidal thoughts.[36] Green refused to accept this, saying that his fundamentalist religious beliefs did not recognize civil divorce and that she was still his wife “in God’s eyes”. In 2007, Green stated: “Blame gay people? I do. Their stated goal was to put her out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did. It’s unfair.”[37]

    Some Christian fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned Bryant after her divorce. Because she was no longer invited to appear at their events, she lost a major source of income. The Florida Citrus Commission also allowed her contract to lapse after the divorce, stating that Bryant had “worn out” as a spokesperson.[38]

    Anita Bryant crashed and burned.

    She started out as a beauty contest winner, Miss Oklahoma 1958 and second runnerup Miss America 1959, pop singer, and advertising spokesperson.
    Then it all fell apart when she decided to become a spokeperson for hating the gays. That didn’t do her any good but what really derailed her career was getting divorced. Divorce is a huge crime in fundie xianity land. (Their divorce rate is also higher than the national average which makes them all hypocrites.)

    After her divorce and her life falling apart, she all but disappeared from the national news. I hadn’t heard that name in decades and never missed it.

  7. charles says

    I stopped drinking orange juice for a long time when she became spokes bigot for florida orange juice.

    About wearing a watch ‘backwards’, I did that for a while after seeing George C Scott in “The Last Run” so he could see the time without taking his hand off the strearing wheel.

  8. raven says

    Old joke from the 1970’s.

    You know it is going to be a bad day when your son says he wishes Anita Bryant would mind her own business.

    It’s ironic that now her granddaughter has said the same thing…to her.

  9. leovigild says

    (Oh, right, the “your watch is on backwards” thing. You see, back in the Old Days, we wore timepieces called “watches” on our wrist, and most normal people wore them with the face on the dorsal side, so you’d hold your arm straight out to see the time; some people wore them with the face on the ventral side, so you’d bend your wrist back when you wanted to know what time it is. This is a difficult difference to grasp for people who may not know what a watch is.)

    They’re called FitBits now. People still wear ’em.

  10. says

    I wore my watches with the face inside my wrist because I broke several and they were protected that way. I didn’t know I was gay because of that. Gay’s OK – I’m just glad I am not “conservative” – that’s the kiss of stupid.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    Derailing a bit: stuff famous in the 1950s that is still cool.

    Today, July 29th is 67 years since LOTR was published.
    Reading about “elves”….AB would probably have considered that to be extremely gay.
    And I also kept my timepiece on the ‘wrong’ way to protect it from bumps to the glass face

  12. richardh says

    Real manly men (or was it the gaily gays? I can never remember which was which) had special inside-wrist watches with the dial rotated so 12 was in the direction of the wearer’s hand. Sort of like those upside-down nurse’s watches but less so.

  13. garnetstar says

    I started wearing my watch “wrong” when I hung out with painters a lot. They always put their watches that way while painting to keep the oil paint off the face.

    And, you know what? It’s a lot easier and more convenient. I wear it that way to this day. Sometimes you don’t have a phone or it’s turned off or you need to check the time instantly and discreetly, so you just turn your wrist.

    And it didn’t turn me gay! The equivalent of fear of being “transed” today.

  14. says

    That flyer is from National Lampoon! Of course it’s satire!

    Man, there’s another thing the young’uns have forgotten.

  15. submoron says

    I wear my watch on the inside of my wrist because my father did and he acquired this habit in the British Army and, as with Marcus Ramm, it protected the glass. My father could never accept that homosexuality was natural, much as loved Britten’ music. I don’t go with him on that!

  16. says

    I was actually told as a teenager that I shouldn’t wear my watch on the inside of my wrist because I looked “limp-wristed” when I checked the time. It was a real thing.

  17. cjcolucci says

    Like Charles, I boycotted orange juice (I was often good for a quart container at breakfast) until Anita Bryant stopped being the spokesbigot. Now I’m old and have Type II diabetes and can’t drink OJ anymore.

  18. Akira MacKenzie says

    <

    blockquote>… some people wore them with the face on the ventral side, so you’d bend your wrist back when you wanted to know what time it is.)

    Before my Apple Watch required me to wear it on the dorsal side of my wrist, I wore it on my Left ventral side as my father did. He was an Army reservist and was taught to wear in lick that so sunlight wouldn’t reflect off the crystal and give away one’s position to an enemy. Of course, that could be all BS, but who knows?

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    Edit: Sorry, I hit “Post” before I realized I didn’t close that blockquote tag.

  20. blf says

    I wear my watch either way. I got the on-the-inside habit from my father who told me he learned in the Navy. My current watch is solar-powered, so it works better (recharges) when worn on the outside, more exposed to the sun.

  21. submoron says

    Whoops! I mean that I accept the normality of homosexuality and love Britten’s music too.

  22. cartomancer says

    You know, I have occasionally thought that I’d like to “cure” myself of homosexuality. Though I’ve never wanted to be straight. Asexual was always the goal. Mostly, though, I wanted it because I dreamed that getting rid of my sexuality would get rid of the unrequited love that came with it, and the societal expectations that I ought to make somethimg of it and get something out of it. The feeling that I’m a failure for having gone nearly two decades without managing to secure even the sniff of a relationship, with my beloved or anyone else.

    Today has very much been one of those days.

  23. dean56 says

    most normal people wore them with the face on the dorsal side, so you’d hold your arm straight out to see the time; some people wore them with the face on the ventral side, so you’d bend your wrist back when you wanted to know what time it is. This is a difficult difference to grasp for people who may not know what a watch is.)

    What about the few of us who used a pocket watch their grandfather gave them?

  24. hemidactylus says

    Does anyone remember Rush Limbaugh?

    https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-06-16-mn-4755-story.html

    “Four months after a furor erupted over the decision to pay radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh $1 million to tout Florida orange juice, stagnant sales and a stepped-up national boycott have put the squeeze on the state Citrus Commission to can the outspoken conservative… Known for calling some women’s rights activists “femi-nazis” and bashing gays, environmentalists and Democrats, Limbaugh has become so closely associated with Florida orange juice that he is being compared to past spokespersons who became equally controversial: Anita Bryant and Burt Reynolds.

    Bryant, a singer, pitched orange juice for 12 years until her opposition to gay rights got her fired in 1980. Reynolds’ one-year contract to hawk O.J. was not renewed after his split with wife, Loni Anderson, turned nasty and went public.”

  25. whheydt says

    I picked up wearing my watch on the inside of my wrist from my father. He never said why he did it (and it’s way too late to ask him now). In light of some of the other comments in this thread, that he was enlisted in the Navy for 6 years, went from being a fireman (which has nothing to do with putting out fires) to an electricians mate, was later an engineering officer on tankers, and taught ships electrical systems (12 years in the Maritime Service) some or all of those are likely reasons.

  26. birgerjohansson says

    Dean56 @ 24
    During WWI pocket watches were impractical, so a solution was to wear a band on the arm where the pocket watch was secured, and easily brought up in sight when waiting for a barrage to start or stop.
    Wristwatches were the logical offspring of this invention.
    GPS is another more recent invention that made it from the battlefield to everybody’s pocket.

  27. garnetstar says

    Akira MacKenzie @19, divers do that too, for the same reason. You don’t want glints off of your dive watch to look like glints off of fish scales, because that attracts shark attacks. So, could be true!

  28. Stars & Gutters says

    Oh, wow. That one joke about the Anita Bryant concert in Airplane makes more sense now.

  29. anthrosciguy says

    A bit of karma trivia: the Florida Orange Juice people spent decades, and millions, promoting FLORIDA orange juice as somehow better than all others. They hired Anita Bryant, and after the resultant boycott of FLORIDA orange juice – remember, this was supposedly doomed to fail because who cared back then about a few “perverts” – the growers had to pressure their leaders (may have been some state law involved too, but I don’t remember for sure) to allow them to remove the word “Florida” from their juice.

  30. klatu says

    New Zealand is about to ban conversion “therapy.”

    So that’s nice.

    Never heard about her before, but fuck this old lady. How can a thinking human be over eighty years old and still be so incapable of recognizing the immeasurable harm they’ve done to everyone in their life? And for what? Nobody’s happier for it. Nobody gained a fucking thing, in the end.

    She could have probably lead a much more fulfilling life if she had even once re-considered her loyalty to the imaginary, penis-obsessesed, divine dictator she calls ‘God’. Pitiful.

  31. andrewkiener says

    In the eternal words of liberal icon David Allan Coe,

    Hey, fuck Anita Bryant.
    Who the hell is she,
    Telling all them homos
    That they can’t be free?

  32. PaulBC says

    81? I thought she was at least 20 years older than that and had been dead for many years already. I guess it shows what this campaign did for her reputation.

    She used to sing the commercial jingle for Florida oranges in the 70s (something about the “sunshine tree”). I have no idea what she was famous for before that.

  33. rietpluim says

    Some things are so batshit crazy it is hard to tell whether it’s satire or not.

  34. says

    Apparently, Anita Bryant hasn’t been cured yet. But before long, her homophobia will be nothing but a bad memory.

    I feel sorry for Sarah Green. But I would advise her to cut the toxic people out of her life.

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