“Anita Bryant is the best thing ever to happen to American homosexuals,” editorialized The Nation magazine. Thanks to a Bible-preaching singer from Oklahoma, gay people, gay issues and gay life entered the mainstream of public debate.
Gay rights made the covers of both Time and Newsweek, the latter observing that Dade County made equal rights for homosexuals “a full-fledged national issue.” The three major television networks ran more stories with gay content in 1977 than in any year before the outbreak of the AIDS pandemic. Media analysts noted that “Anita Bryant legitimated the gay rights struggle as news.”
As she surveyed the city’s annual gay pride parade a Houston minister observed how much bigger the crowd was than in previous years: “If [Anita Bryant] is an instrument of the Lord as she claims, then her work is to bring together the gay community as never before. It took Anita Bryant to bring this many of our brothers and sisters out of their closets. And after tonight, they’ll never return. God works in mysterious ways.” GO TO PANEL 20