HBO eyes bio-pic about anti-gay activist.
Anita Bryant was the first celebrity I didn't encounter at Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida.
Let me explain:
You know the motto 'a day late and a dollar short'? When I first visited Trinity back in the 70's, everyone was talking about Anita's visit. It was a week prior to my first service at Trinity.
Missed her by one week!
Everybody seemed excited about this Christian celebrity in their midst.
This actually confused me. You have to remember, this was back during the days when fundamental Baptists were a little more pronounced against going to movies or having anything to do with the world of entertainment. Even Ron Reilly, our youth pastor at the time, said quite clearly: "It's a sin for any young person to go to a movie theater. I don't care if it's Bambi!"
Today, if you ask anyone at Trinity, or most fundamental institutions, about movie going, they won't even admit there was a time they opposed it. You'll probably get, "Are you still living in the 70s?"
Of course, that confirms that I'm right. It's their way of acknowledging, "Yes, we did preach that it was wrong, but today we've changed our minds."
You have to wonder, if they can change minds about something they regarded as evil less than twenty years ago, what will they change their minds about in the future? Hmmm. . .how about whether or not gays are going to Hell? Wouldn't surprise me. I have a very clear memory of Trinity leaders saying gays cannot be saved. No way. No how. Of course, that has gone a subtle revisionism over the past decade.
Back to Anita:
When I first came to Trinity, everybody was so 'ga-ga' over Anita. I was confused because she did compete in Miss America, which meant a bathing suit competition. Remember, we're talking about people who have split families over 'mixed swimming'. That is: men and women swimming together no matter how modest the bathing suits.
Why did Anita get a pass on issues of 'biblical separation', whereas the rank and file member of Trinity would be dragged through the coals for either going to movies, or the beach? Well, like Carrie Prejean, the bikini clad Christian with the boob job, all is forgiven in Christian America as long as you're a card carrying homophobe with a conspiracy theory to match.
The fellow who drove me to church, a week after Anita, spoke of entering a 7-11. Somebody was saying bad things about Anita Bryant, so he intentionally bought Florida Orange Juice (which Anita pitched back then), made a fist like he was about to punch someone out, and said, "Give me one Florida Orange Juice for Anita!"
He never smacked anyone, but it was not unusual to see certain fundamentalist leaders, while preaching against homosexuality, make a fist with their hands and act like they wanted to beat them up. At one point, I did have a teacher who bragged about beating up gays in downtown Jacksonville. When I mentioned this to other leaders, they looked upon me like I was the one with the problem.
Why? Because I don't think we need to physically assault people to prove our point?
It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, is made from HBO's intention to make this biography. However, judging from another article, violence linked to Anita Bryant isn't anything new.
Article: Anita's New Hate.
On June 21, 1977 32-year-old Robert Hillsborough lay feet away from the doorstep of his San Francisco home bleeding to death from fifteen stab wounds inflicted by a young man that stood over him screaming “FAGGOT! FAGGOT! FAGGOT!” According to an eyewitness account, one of Robert’s four assailants looked at him and said, “This is for Anita Bryant.”