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 baby 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 boomer didn’t toast a morning OJ to me?
As soon as I spoke my personal 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 brouhaha. Rev. Jerry Falwell gave me his enthusiastic support.
It was orange crush time! I was up against the gay lobby and liberal baby boomer Hollywood. They tried 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 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.
Baby Boomer Trivia Questions
►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 at end of post
This Day in Baby Boomer History
1991: The hit musical Miss Saigon opens on Broadway.
1983: Gandhi wins Best Movie, Best Director, and Best Actor (Ben Kingsley) .
1981: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to regulate sexual harassment goes into effect.
1981: President Reagan arrives home from hospital after being shot by John Hinkley.
1970: Apollo 13 launched to Moon. Unable to land, it returns in six days.
1970: Beatles’ Let It Be single goes #1.
1968: President Johnson signs landmark Civil Rights Act.
1962: New York Mets debut and lose.
1960: First weather satellite launched.
1952: President Truman fires General Douglas McArthur.
1947: Jackie Robinson becomes the first black player in major-league baseball.
Answers to Baby Boomer Trivia Questions
►The Stonewall Riots, which continued for three days after a police raid at the New York City Stonewall Inn, is generally regarded 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, disclosed sexual orientation after their active Hollywood careers were over.
The aristocratic Dr. Winchester in a moment of angst.