Thirty-six years ago today, anti-gay activist Anita Bryant was struck in the face with a pie during a press conference. Bryant at that time had gained prominence for her successful fight against pro-gay ordinances via vigils, public events, and speeches where she combined her religious belief that homosexuality was a sin with false horror stories about gays raping and "recruiting" children.
Many folks in my community have cheered the above incident and have talked about how anti-gay activists these days need to have the same thing done to them. Others have actually imitated the pie throwers in their own way with the "glitter bombing" mania a while back.
I'm probably going to get called out and yelled at for this but I despise the above video. Don't get me wrong. When Bryant begins crying while praying for those who hit her with the pie, I really don't feel sorry for her.
But in a general sense, I've always felt that smacking Bryant in the face with a pie was an awful thing to do. And I bristle every time I hear one of us, expressing more of a desire to vent than to be intelligent, start wishing that we go back to physically attacking our opponents.
Some of us want to be all snarky about how Bryant is a "b#!@*" who deserved the pie in the face, but remember this. Bryant not only succeeded in her endeavors (at the cost of her career) but laid the groundwork for the hard road the lgbt community now trods in pursuit of our equality.
You see, Bryant was probably the first to spread lies about the lgbt community under the visage of "religious liberty" to beat back pro-lgbt laws. But she wasn't the last. From her tendrils sprung Paul Cameron, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and even the National Organization for Marriage.
And while we cheer Bryant getting hit in the face with a pie, while we plan more acts of public protests, or while we wax nostagically about "zapping" anti-gay activists, that crucial point of our history is being ignored.
We have the unfortunate belief that public incidents of civil disobedience or those designed to attract attention will get us where we need to go. We have to get away from this mindset.
It's time we stop thinking that media attention alone is something we need to aim for. Equality is our goal. Media attention is merely a tactic. Some of us have gotten the tactic mixed up with the goal.
What happened to Bryant 36 years ago must never be imitated by any of us.