Anita Bryant January 1977: the enactment of a gay rights law in Miami-Dade county mobilizes the ex-beauty queen's antigay campaign--as well as gays nationwide, including San Franciscan Armistead Maupin. (Gods & Monsters).
I actually read about Anita Bryant's Save Our Children campaign to overturn Miami's gay rights law directly from the news wires. It was quite clear to me that this campaign was going to have a galvanizing effect on the gay movement. There's really nothing like a good villain to start a revolution, and Anita filled the bill perfectly.
I know what the battle did for me: It forced me to confront my own residual self-loathing and stare it down once and for all by coming out.
I was writing Tales of the City as a serial in-house at the San Francisco Chronicle, and I was able to respond to news of Bryant's campaign in a matter of 24 hours, concocting a letter from [gay character] Michael's mother about their efforts to save Florida from the homosexuals. By the strangest serendipity, I had already established Michael as the son of Florida orange growers. Within a matter of weeks, Michael was writing a reply to his mother in which he comes out.
My parents were subscribing to the Chronicle in order to follow the series, and when they got to Michael's coming-out letter, they realized I was writing to them. And within a week they saw me described as a gay journalist in Newsweek when that magazine covered Anita Bryant.
About 10 years ago I was at an American Booksellers Association convention where Bryant was appearing, and she was still pissing and moaning about how the homosexuals had destroyed her career as spokesperson for Florida orange juice. The irony is, it wasn't the orange juice boycott that caused her to lose her job; it was the fact that she made herself forever associated with homosexuality. So in one way she was a victim of homophobia herself: Folks on the orange board didn't want people to think about queers when they bought orange juice.
Maupin, Armistead. "Anita Bryant January 1977: the enactment of a gay rights law in Miami-Dade county mobilizes the ex-beauty queen's antigay campaign--as well as gays nationwide, including San Franciscan Armistead Maupin. (Gods & Monsters)." The Advocate (The national gay & lesbiannewsmagazine). LPI Media. 2002.