Biopic planned for anti-gay campaigner Anita Bryant
US television network HBO is developing a biopic of Anita Bryant, the campaigner who warned gays were recruiting children.
Bryant, now 69, was a singer in the 1950s and 1960s but is better known for campaigning against gay equality measures.
Sex and the City creator Darren Star, who is gay, has been lined up as director and executive producer of the film, while Runaway creator Chad Hodge is developing the screenplay.
Hodge, who is reportedly aiming for a “nuanced” portrayal of the Christian activist, said: “She is a fascinating person on every single level. The twists and turns of her life are incredible.”
Bryant was born to a religious family in Oklahoma in 1940 and began making her name as a beauty queen in the 1950s.
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She had a number of hits as a singer and became a celebrity spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, with the tagline: “Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.”
Bryant became a controversial figure in the 1970s, when she rallied against a Miami-Dade ordinance outlawing discrimination against gays. The ordinance was not reinstated until 1998.
Leading a coalition called Save Our Children, which encouraged other cities to protest anti-discrimination measures, she claimed that gays would “recruit” children.
She said at the time: “As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children.”
Another of Bryant’s comments was: “If gays are granted rights, next we’ll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St Bernards and to nail biters.”
She successfully repealed the Miami-Dade ordinance and Save Our Children was heralded as the beginning of anti-gay activism.
In response to the movement, gay bars across America boycotted orange juice.
Bryant eventually lost her Florida Citrus Commission deal and filed for bankruptcy. She now lives with her second husband and runs Anita Bryant Ministries.
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