I was doing just fine: top 40 hits, including Paper Roses, and several albums. As television spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, my face was as familiar across boomer America as your mother’s. Close your eyes, it’ll all come back to you: “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.” What baby boomer didn’t toast a morning OJ to me?
As soon as I spoke my conscience, the pits hit the fan. But I couldn’t sit idly by when Dade County (Miami) passed a 1977 law prohibiting discrimination against gays, which would force schools to hire gay teachers. I organized Save Our Children and took the issue to vote, where 69% of the people agreed with me. I continued the fight and got more pro-gay city laws overturned. I became the symbol of a national boomer-era brough haha. Rev. Jerry Falwell gave me his enthusiastic support.
It was orange crush time! I was up against the gay lobby and its ultra-liberal baby boomer Hollywood army set out to destroy me. I was vilified, blacklisted, even pied in the face.
The Citrus Commission buckled under pressure and released me. My marriage broke up. My husband refused to accept our divorce because of his religious beliefs. Even Christian fundamentalist friends abandoned me over that issue. I moved to Selma, Alabama with my four children.
I remarried in 1990 and tried to rekindle my music career in smaller venues like Branson, Missouri. I guess my time was over. I was forced to file for bankruptcy twice. Today, I live in Edmond, Oklahoma, not far from where I was born. I don’t regret a thing, although I do have a more live-and-let-live attitude. I’m proud to be a fundamentalist Christian. I spend my time doing charity work and running Anita Bryant Ministries International.
Anita Bryant was Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and second runner-up in the Miss America pageant at age 19.
BOOMERS TRIVIA QUIZ
►What incident is regarded as the birth of the Gay Liberation movement in 1976?
Stonewall Bar Riot
Boston St. Patrick’s Parade Protest
Disneyland Sit Down
Barney’s Hamburger Shout Out
►Which of these boomer celebrities came “out of the closet” later in life?
David Ogden Stiers
Answers to Boomers Trivia Questions at end of post
THIS DAY IN BABY BOOMER HISTORY
1991 Dolphin Dan Marino surpasses 49er Joe Montana as the highest paid NFL player with a 5-year extension for $25 million.
1986 “Going Postal” enters our vocabulary. A mail carrier in Oklahoma shoots 14 fellow workers dead.
1982 U.S. Marines land in Beirut, Lebanon.
1974 President Gerald Ford assumes office after Richard Nixon’s resignation. Nelson Rockefeller is named Vice-President.
1965 Rolling Stones release “Satisfaction,” which becomes its first number #1 U.S. hit.
1964 President Johnson signs an anti-poverty measure totaling nearly $1 billion in federal expenditure.
1961 East Germany begins erecting a 5 foot high barricade along the border with West Germany to replace the barbed wire put up earlier. The infamous Berlin Wall is born.
1960 Russia recovers 2 dogs, the first living organisms to return from space, giving impetus for America to declare a Space Race.
1953 Russia publicly acknowledges a hydrogen bomb test detonation.
ANSWERS TO BOOMERS TRIVIA QUESTIONS
►The Stonewall Riots, which continued for three days after a police raid at the Stonewall Inn gay bar in New York City, is generally cited as the event that sparked formation of the Gay Liberation political movement.
►Rock Hudson, Tab Hunter, and David Ogden Stiers, who played Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester III on the television hit MASH, admitted sexual orientation after their active Hollywood careers were over.