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Reflecting on Anita Bryant

Cover of The Anita Bryant Story.

2,576 wordsCover of The Anita Bryant Story.

Anita Bryant
The Anita Bryant Story: The Survival of our Nation’s Families and the Threat of Militant Homosexuality
Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977

The culture wars of the 1970s deserve considerable study. One of the cultural warriors was Anita Bryant. When I saw a used copy of her book denouncing the militant homosexual movement, I snatched it up immediately. Taking a look at the “Rightists” of old is valuable for Rightists today in that they carried out actions and built institutions which we can learn from and improve upon.

Anita Bryant was a pop culture icon in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She was Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and almost became Miss USA shortly thereafter. She also had an outstanding singing voice. Several of her songs made the Top 40 List. Despite this, it is likely that most people only hear of Anita Bryant in a short joke from the movie Airplane! (1980), where vomiting passengers are compared to an audience at one of Bryant’s concerts. Militant homosexuality had won Hollywood by 1980.

Before getting too deep into this article, I wish to state upfront that I believe that most — if not all — of the Religious Right’s political activism starting in the 1970s was/is a reaction by whites to the disaster of the “civil rights” movement by other means. Nobody will admit it though. It would have been better for Bryant to have endorsed the white ethnostate and not worry about homosexuality at all. But since she did what she did, one must ask, did Bryant say anything in 1977 that has come true today? Is there anything that can be learned from her career as an activist?

The Many Faces of Homosexuality

Homosexuality comprises several parts. There are differences within the broader coalition — the L’s, G’s, B’s, T’s, Q’s, etc. (In this article the focus will be on homosexuals, i.e. “gay” men.) Then there are the differences of where homosexuality is placed in society.

On the one hand, there is homosexuality as a closeted minor vice. When the lifestyle was closeted, or at least not centered, homosexuals tended to have pretty solid careers in the creation of cultural works — such as Liberace and Horatio Alger, among many others.

There could also be a big-picture Darwinian reason for the existence of this sort of homosexuality. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout Movement, was very likely a homosexual who tried desperately to curb his desires. Possibly because of the way he ended up controlling this tension, he did a great service to his king, country, and empire. (And he still managed to marry and father children.) The boys he mentored in his Scouting movement were definitely successful in a Darwinian sense. There are still English families in South Africa that were founded by Lord Baden-Powell’s original scouts organized during the Siege of Mafeking.

Additionally, many men become temporarily homosexual when there are no women around at all, such as English public schoolboys. Gore Vidal, who served in Alaska during World War II, later said temporary homosexuality was not entirely unusual among the soldiers and sailors there. These sorts of men often go on to marry women and raise families and their past becomes the past.

Then there is gay identity, the militant homosexuality that Bryant warned about. In this movement, homosexuality is the center of everything — from the way one talks, acts, and dresses to how gays apply theology and philosophy. It was this movement that Bryant fought.

Civil rights” & Militant Homosexuality

Militant homosexuality is a symptom of a damaged society. It is like the proverbial infection that is normally minor, but dangerous in a patent whose immune system is compromised. Militant homosexuality developed at roughly the same time as the “civil rights” movement — which is a far, far worse problem for whites. The first defense of homosexuality in the United States was published in 1908, around the same time that the NAACP was organized. The Society for Human Rights was founded in the late 1920s. The homosexual activist Henry “Harry” Hay Jr. (1912 – 2002), founder of The Mattachine Society, started his activism in 1948, the same year the Democratic Party embraced “civil rights” at their convention.

Like the “civil rights” movement, militant homosexuality achieved big successes with little resistance by the early 1960s. Christian religious organizations started to support militant homosexuality by the late 1960s; for example, the gay-oriented Metropolitan Community Church was founded in 1968. According to his son Frank, the Evangelical Protestant philosopher Francis Schaeffer quietly tolerated homosexuality at this time also. The first Pride Parade was in 1970. So when Anita Bryant became an activist in 1977 she was the start of resistance to what was an established movement that had already achieved many victories.

Anita Bryant speaking.

Anita Bryant during her crusade.

Bryant’s Book

The copy that I picked up of The Anita Bryant Story consists of frail and yellowed-with-age pages. It probably spent the last decades ignored in the library of a Southern Baptist Church somewhere. The book’s spine wasn’t broken, so one wonders if it was ever read at all. The book’s narrative is centered upon repealing a pro-gay measure in Dade County, Florida in 1977.

What is striking is the familiarity of Bryant’s crusade with any anti-leftist fight four decades later. Bryant faced a foe tied into a media system sympathetic to homosexuality. Bryant’s rivals called her a “bigot” and a “hater.” Homosexual pornography was a weapon — Bryant was sent photos of men in the act.

Bryant saw the fight in moral terms with the “religious” against the militant gays. She refers a great deal to Jewish Rabbis that supported her. There is a sort of tragic Boomer Conservative aspect to the book. Nothing she says is really insightful — there is no prediction of the AIDS crisis which was budding as early as 1977. (In the military, one would call this a “failure of intelligence.”) Most of her arguments are backed up by Bible verses.

Fruit Pies & Speaking Truth to Power

The quote of Anita Bryant that seems to cause militant homosexuals the most angst is: “Homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”

This, of course, is objectively true. Youngsters are being recruited into the lifestyle, with some twenty percent of Millennials identifying as homosexual versus a mere seven percent of Boomers. [1] [1] But there is more trouble with this. In the same way believers in “civil rights” misread data, so do militant homosexuals.

Militant homosexuals misread data in two different ways. First, they deny just how powerful the sexual impulse is. Indeed, militant homosexuals deny the power of this impulse as they flaunt their personal inability to control their desires. Throughout their advance through society, militant homosexuals have convinced enough people, especially women, to dismantle reasonable defenses against homosexual temptation — such as practicing gays serving as Scoutmasters.

Second, militant homosexuals misread the potentially life-altering effects of sex. For young women, the biggest risk of sex is an unplanned pregnancy, but abused boys are also faced with a lifetime of damage. A corollary to the life-altering problems is the fact that sex is a two-edged sword of social scorn. If one isn’t having sex one is a “prude,” an “incel,” or “frigid.” But the instant someone has sex they run the risk of being an “abuser” or a “slut.”

Bearing the above in mind, any institution with practicing gays is in danger of lawsuits from the abused victims. Any institution is always at risk for this, but by specifically allowing for homosexuality one is taking obvious additional risks that will, without a doubt, be emphasized in court. In recent years, the Boy Scouts bowed to militant homosexual pressure and allowed practicing gay leaders. Within a very short time, the institution was bankrupted by lawsuits. No wealthy gay donated a penny to defend the Scouts. The gay community simply walked away from the wreckage their activism caused.

Obviously, the transgender movement demands a misreading of data. The medical profession can also get bamboozled. One gay activist insists that guidelines blocking gay men from donating blood, “. . . are derived from a legacy of fear rather than scientific fact.” [2] [2] Of course, the opposite is true, and his op-ed shows the non-foolproof (and possibly expensive) extra precautions required to keep blood safe when practicing gay men are able to donate.

The Fruit Pie Incident.

This leads to the famous pie incident. At a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa on October 14, 1977, Bryant had a pie thrown in her face by a gay activist named Thom Higgins. Today, all sorts of activists celebrate this act in the usual “punch a Nazi way.” However, the leftist “punch a Nazi” policy is playing with fire. Thom Higgins putting a pie into the face of Anita Bryant was power speaking to truth. The truth of Bryant’s assertion that gays must “recruit” remains unrefuted.

There’s more along these lines too. In the manner of misreading data, Higgins (according to a find-a-grave internet write-up) believed homosexuality was a “healthy and fulfilling personal option” and yet he died at a young age — probably of AIDS. His short life is part of a trend; practicing gay men don’t live as long as straight, married men for various reasons.

Since the fruit pie incident, militant homosexuals continue to speak power to truth. Indeed, any movement that cannot state the truth, ends valorous legacies (Thom Higgins, childless, had a war-hero father), creates wreckage when the logical end state of their demands are met, and responds to criticism with violence is an oppressive force. [3] [3] Essentially, the problem with militant homosexuality is that of leftism more generally, rather than sexual impulses in particular.

A Hotwash of Bryant’s Activism

It is quite possible that the controversy juiced Anita Bryant’s career rather than end it as many suppose. By 1977, Bryant was a has-been star. Her youthful beauty was fading, and her songs, while good, were

You can buy Greg Johnson’s The White Nationalist Manifesto here [4]

Lawrence Welk-level of average and covered with a goopy second helping of Jesus. In taking a stand, people took notice and she got a big bump in fans. It is quite possible that Anita Bryant derailed militant homosexual advances by decades.

However, there are some negatives to her activism. The first challenge Anita Bryant had was the nature of what she was offering versus the nature of what her militant homosexual rivals were offering. In other words, Bryant only offered self-restraint with an Evangelical Protestant Christian package. Self-restraint in such a religious framework is all well and good, but it is always going to be a hard sell to those offering self-indulgence. Self-restraint must be tied into something greater.

Bryant’s Christianity is also a difficult standard to meet. The strain put on Bryant’s marriage due to her activism led to divorce. Jesus Christ said nothing about homosexuality, but he said a great deal about divorce. Bryant lost much of her following after her divorce. Additionally, it proved to be true that many of the most vocal anti-gay activists had some sort of homosexual tendencies themselves. The Reverend Ted Haggard, a conservative Christian voice against homosexuality in Colorado, turned out to enjoy meth-fueled sex with gay prostitutes on the down-low. People love to hate hypocrites.

Another problem — unfair, but nonetheless real — was that of Bryant’s sex. This is not to say women shouldn’t take up the cause, but women have some disadvantages as activists that must be addressed. Their attractiveness is always an issue; a bad or good hairdo can distract from what they are saying. Women also become less attractive as they age. Yesterday’s belle of the ball becomes today’s schoolmarm. Older women’s voices are often shrill and scolding. Men don’t like to work for scolding schoolmarms, and women rarely form effective teams outside of some sort of child-rearing group.

Meanwhile, in 1977 militant homosexuals had already formed, dare I say, männerbunds, as well-oiled and efficient as a Prussian Cavalry Troop. In televised debates and news programs about the issue, the gay men always come across as well put-together, tolerant, and intelligent. Bryant came across as a bossypants Sunday School pupil who spoke in a condescending, sticky-sweet way.

Finally, Anita Bryant, and the rest of the Religious Right at the time, failed to recognize that the US Constitution, the codified mos maiorum of America’s Anglo-Nordic founding stock, had been replaced by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Under that new law, all Bryant’s grassroots anti-gay movement got, in addition to wars for Israel, was (figuratively) their Bible replaced by the militant homosexual work Heather Has Two Mommies. Conservatives treated Heather as a joke, but as Christopher Caldwell would mournfully write years later, due to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, “Heather was not having an argument. She was laying down the law.” [4] [5]

Our Society is Post-Protestant

Anita Bryant used her prayers as activism. Her prayers were something of a sermon arguing for her views against homosexuality. It’s a common Evangelical Protestant way of prayer, where the speaker says whatever they think rather than a formal ritualized chant. Having grown up in an Evangelical Protestant milieu, I found such praying — especially by bossy schoolmarms — grating and tactless, but the biggest problem is that we are in a post-Protestant society.

Northern European societies became post-Protestant following the Boer War. Something about the way that dreadful conflict played out between two closely related peoples put a lasting crimp on social arguments based on the Bible. The religious revival playing out in America during the 1970s was real, but it was something like the engine running full throttle for an overturned vehicle in a ditch.

The British dead at Spion Kop.

Something — perhaps a hegemonic unity, perhaps a more certain faith — went out of Protestantism after the ugliness of the Boer War. After that conflict, many Protestants stopped believing the Bible was a guide for organizing society.

Attention Gay White Men: Close your eyes and think of England!

I propose in this post-Protestant situation, if one wishes to argue for anything, including the traditional Christian viewpoints on sex and marriage, one must argue from the point of view of science, secular humanism, and Darwinism.

In light of that idea, homosexuality is an enduring part of the human condition, but the men who participate in it are not carrying out their Darwinian duty to their society. For each man that becomes a practicing homosexual, there is one woman of his social class that fails to find a husband. Children to carry on civilization are not born.

While it is true that celibate men have advanced science, arts, and humanities throughout European history, we are in such a time of declining white birthrates that all hands need to be on deck when it comes to fathering and raising children. Finally, conservatives like that of Anita Bryant must recognize that their angst is not so much related to sexual mores, but due to their own dispossession brought by the civil rights movement and demographic changes more generally.


[1] [6] Gonella, Catalina, “Survey: 20 Percent of Millennials Identify as LGBTQ,” NBC, archived 17 March 2020. [http://archive.vn/t2FPP [7]] [https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/survey-20-percent-millennials-identify-lgbtq-n740791 [8]]

[2] [9] Cuneo, Nicholas C., “Rules for gay blood donors are based on outdated fear, not science,” The Los Angeles Times, archived 17 March 2020. [http://archive.vn/kutsR [10]] [https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-cuneo-gay-blood-donor-20180705-story.html [11]]

[3] [12] Additionally, to support militant homosexuality, President Obama announced that he would not follow the Defense of Marriage Act. A president deliberately not following the law has the potential of opening a Pandora’s Box of social forces that can get out of control. What happens when a president decides to not follow the law regarding, say, murder, or cruel and unusual punishment?

[4] [13] Page 169.