♫ "Ode to Anita"
by Michelle Faithe ♫
By 1977 the religious right was beginning to organize; the time was ripe for a backlash to all the new values society had begun, albeit cautiously, to embrace. One of the first spokeswomen for the new bigots was Anita Bryant, an orange juice saleswoman, former pop singer, and an early 1960s Miss America runner-up from Florida.
Anita got her start when Miami, Florida considered adding sexual orientation to their list of protected minorities in hiring and housing. Apparently Anita liked things the way they were, and feared her children would come in contact with homosexuals and start serenading the "disgusting perverts" with their own version of "Till There Was You."
Fully controlled at first by a husband she later divorced, Anita railed against gay people, the gay lifestyle, and made it fashionable once again to be an old style Southern Baptist. Enough of those Jimmy Carter liberal Baptists, Anita helped to make that concept a permanent oxymoron!
Anita had a real demeanor about her you just couldn't miss, and for about a year it seemed you couldn't turn around without hearing of some new antic from her or directed against her, for gay people were raging mad that she went after our rights.
She lost her job selling orange juice early on, for a boycott of Florida orange juice made the growers there uneasy and probably a tad poorer than they might have been. If there's one good way to approach controversy, it's to cut into corporate profits.
Anita went on a tour of America bringing her bigotry with her. She got away with it almost every place she went.
Then she went to Des Moines, Iowa. She never dreamt her horrible fate. During a news conference, a pie was thrown into her face.
I still lived in Ames, but a friend who was living in San Francisco told me that, in addition to pie parties throughout the gay neighborhoods of the city that evening, people took a moment of silence and bowed down and prayed to the new holy spot in the East, Des Moines, a new, gay Mecca.
The background music on this page is "Ode to Anita," by Michelle Faithe. I bought this on a 45 rpm record when I was on a weekend visit to Chicago in 1977. It is unlikely you will find this anywhere else on the internet unless this particular version spreads; at least I've never found much mention of this song anywhere.
Try this outside link at Uncle Don's Castro Street pages for more information on Anita. Also, clicking on the first image, the poster, above, will provide you with a larger version of the image.