For a time in American history, public enemy No.1 was a seemingly innocuous item:
But not just any orange juice: the juice that came from Florida. And thanks to the bigotry of Anita Bryant, her mission to “Save Our Children” turned the nation against the gay community.
A banana cream pie was a part of one of the most iconic moments in the gay liberation movement.
Anita Bryant, a chart-topping songstress who used her fame to fight “homosexual militants,” was speaking at a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa in 1977 when an activist, Tom Higgins, threw the pie in her face.
“Well, at least it’s a fruit pie,” she scoffed.
Her husband, Bob Green, then encouraged his wife to pray for Higgins. She prayed for him and his “deviant” lifestyle as she wiped away cream from her face, crying.
Lee Lawson, an Iowa native who was in Des Moines protesting Bryant’s visit that day, didn’t witness the incident in person, but word spread quickly.
“Some of us were excited and some of us were embarrassed,” he said of the bold move, one some felt was too bold. “One of the things you had to be aware of is there was a large anti-war movement and we were trying to keep ourselves separate from that. They were a lot bigger and a lot more active than we were. We were trying to do our own thing.”
No matter the reason, Bryant was a huge roadblock in the fight for LGBT rights.
Michael Gongora (Dale Stine)
He may have a baby face, but he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Michael Góngora, 43, has risen the ranks of Miami Beach politics, first helping with a campaign and now in the race for the seat of mayor in November. Not just an ordinary race, his win could make history with Miami Beach voting in its first openly gay mayor in the battlegrounds of hate and bigotry in the days of Anita Bryant.
“He feels that he’s at a point and he really wanted to go for it. He felt he would be more effective running for mayor than he would be for running for city commission again, which I agree with and I completely support,” said his step sister, Maya Sherrill.
Read the rest at South Florida Gay News online.