Anita Bryant is arguably one of America’s most well-known anti-LGBTQI rights activist for around five decades, Now, her granddaughter has come out as gay and said that she will be marrying her same-sex partner – Bryant will get an invite to attend the wedding.
Bryant’s granddaughter Sarah Green made the announcement on a recent episode of the One Year Podcast, where she was joined by her father and Bryant’s son Robert Green.
“I think I probably will eventually just call her and ask if she even wants an invitation, because I genuinely do not know how she would respond. I don’t know if she would be offended if I didn’t invite her,” Green said of her 81-year-old grandmother.
Robert revealed that Bryant’s “face froze” when she first heard of the engagement, adding “All at once, her eyes widened, her smile opened, and out came the oddest sound: ‘Oh.’
Singer To Anti-Gay Activist
From the 1960’s onwards, Bryant was one of the most damaging figures within the broader American discourse surrounding LGBTQI+ rights.
Originally finding fame as a singer, in 1969 her attentions pivoted, following an incident involving Jim Morrison and The Doors. At a performance in Miami, Bryant took part in the Rally for Decency. Then in 1977 when Dade County, Florida, passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Bryant led a public campaign seeking to repeal the new laws, as the head of The Save The Children Coalition.
And while successful in its campaign, and with Bryant’s war against homosexuality in Dade County becoming a “national referendum” on homosexuality, the gays weren’t done with Bryant just yet.
A boycott of the Florida orange juice company, of which Bryant was an ambassador, was soon organised. Gay bars across North America stopped serving Screw Drivers (a drink with vodka and orange juice) instead replacing them with the “Anita Bryant Cocktail”- a concoction of vodka and apple juice. “Gay guerrillas” went so far as to puncture orange juice cartons in grocery stores.
‘I’m Here To Recruit You’
It was due to these claims that Harvey Milk in his now famous “Hope Speech”, made special mention of Bryant.
“My name is Harvey Milk, and I’m here to recruit you. I’ve been saying this one for years. It’s a political joke. I can’t help it…” the political activist famously said.
“About six months ago, Anita Bryant, in her Speaking to God, said that the drought in California was because of the gay people. On November 9, the day after I got elected, it started to rain,” said Milk who also famously judged an Anita Bryant lookalike contest held in San Francisco’s Castro District.
By the 1980’s Bryant’s career had begun to suffer significantly under the weight of her oppressive and outdated views. An offer made by the Singer Corporation to sponsor a possible weekly variety show was ultimately rescinded because of the “extensive national publicity arising from [Bryant’s] controversial political activities.”
Bryant then also found herself rejected by her church after she divorced from her husband, leading to further blows to her business empire.
‘I Don’t Want A Man To Come Along’
With such a dubious history it’s no wonder that Bryant’s granddaughter originally had no intention of ever coming out to her grandmother. She revealed in her interview with the One Year Podcast, when she eventually did, it was on her 21st birthday.
As Green recalls, Bryant sang “Happy Birthday” to her on the phone before telling 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’”.
Bryant allegedly 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 realise 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 said.
Returning attention to her upcoming wedding, Green said that she “probably will eventually just call her and ask if she even wants an invitation, because I genuinely do not know how she would respond. I don’t know if she would be offended if I didn’t invite her.”
“I just kind of feel bad for her,” Green said. “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.”