Will Grandmother Dearest Be Invited to the Wedding?

Image via WCTV

Debating whether or not to invite homophobic family members can be difficult for LGBTQ people. However, imagine being the lesbian granddaughter of Anita Bryant, one of the most infamous anti-gay crusaders in modern history.

That is the dilemma Sarah Green is facing as she prepares to marry another woman. Green talked about her relationship with the notorious homophobe on a recent episode of Slate‘s podcast One Year, hosted by Josh Levin. The episode focuses on 1977, a year when the nation seemed on the verge of great change. 

Bryant, a former beauty queen and pop singer, was a spokeswoman for Florida orange growers in the 1970s and rose to fame for her opposition for LGBTQ rights. Miami-Dade County’s government adopted an ordinance in 1977 banning employment and housing  discrimination based on sexual orientation, making it one of the first municipalities to do so.

Outraged at its passage, Bryant led a campaign dubbed “Save Our Children” to persuade voters to repeal it. She compared gay people to murderers and said they were child molesters seeking to “recruit” children to their cause. 

Along the way, Bryant became a darling of her fellow conservative Christians and an enemy to LGBTQ people and their allies. At one point, an activist threw a pie in her face, which has become one of the most significant moments in the Gay Rights Movement.

Unfortunately, Miami-Dade citizens did repeal the ordinance, with over 70 percent voting in favor. The city-county government restored the ordinance in 1998, and added gender identity to it in 2014. 

Although times have changed, according to Green, her grandmother’s views have not softened. Toward the end of the episode, Green says Bryant, who is now 81 years old, was a doting grandmother and she thought Bryant really didn’t hate LGBTQ people. She started to look at her grandmother different when Green realized as a teen that she herself was gay. 

She had no intention of coming out to Bryant, but was spurred to do so on her 21st birthday. Bryant sang “Happy Birthday” to Green on the phone and said if she had faith, the right man would come along. She recalls, “And I just snapped and was like, ‘I hope that he doesn’t come along because I’m gay, and I don’t want a man to come along.'”

Image via Houston Public Media

Bryant responded by telling her granddaughter that homosexuality is a delusion invented by the devil. That homosexuality “isn’t real” and “doesn’t exist,” and that she should focus on loving God because he would remind her that she is straight. 

“It’s very hard to argue with someone who thinks that an integral part of your identity is just an evil delusion,” Green says.

Despite it being years later, Green says Bryant still will not acknowledge her sexuality. She is currently planning her wedding and debating whether or not to even invite Bryant. She and her fiancée have discussed it extensively.

“I think I probably will eventually just call her and ask if she even wants an invitation, because I genuinely do not know how she would respond,” Green says. “I don’t know if she would be offended if I didn’t invite her.”

The podcast episode also features Green’s father, Robert Green Jr., who says his mother’s face “froze” after she learned of Green’s engagement.

“All at once, her eyes widened, her smile opened, and out came the oddest sound: ‘Oh,’ he says. “Instead of taking Sarah as she is, my mom has chosen to pray that Sarah will eventually conform to my mom’s idea of what God wants Sarah to be.”

Green says she does not hate Bryant, but genuinely feels sorry for her.

“I just kind of feel bad for her,” she says. “And I think as much as she hopes that I will figure things out and come back to God, I kind of hope that she’ll figure things out.”

Image via National Stonewall Archives

Click here to listen to the full podcast. 


 

12 thoughts on “Will Grandmother Dearest Be Invited to the Wedding?”

  1. I think Ms. Bryant got another pie in the face when her own granddaughter came out as gay. I think karma really got this vile foe of LGBTQ+ civil rights right in the kisser. It’s up to her to reconcile with her granddaughter or not. If she refuses to, she has demonstrated she has never changed with the times all these years later. She will die an unenlightened person!

    Reply
    • I very rarely ever speak up about who to invite or not invite to their wedding. I’m Ordained and therefore officiate wedding whenever I am asked to do so. While I will not say yes or no to this question, I will say this. Take a hard look at your grandmother’s past. Has there been any realistic weakening in her position on this issue in your mind? When she was hit in the face with the pie, her initial reaction was use of a gay slur. Then she snapped into “Christian” mode. I know that happened a long time ago. However, it has been my experience that while love deepens over the years, the stain of hate never gets any brighter. Two more things to ask. 1. Can you really trust him to not make a scene; and most importantly, 2. What does your fiance feel about this? While she might be saying that it’s your decision, don’t doubt for a second that she has a feeling that she may or may not be sharing that you need to know. The way I see it, and it is what I tell every couple I marry, nothing is off the table. What one knows/feels the other must also know about. Note I didn’t say agree. I said know ABOUT. Hey agreeing on everything, happens only in 1950s comedies, but not in real life. Many times you have to ask your spouse how they feel about whatever is going on. If it’s same HONEST feeling, great. But if it’s not the same, find out why, fast. This is YOUR DAY. Nothing should detract from that. I wish both many many years of happiness and joy together.

      Reply
      • I forgot one thing. If invited, I have no doubt grandmother will accept. Question is which person will actually walk into the venue?? Bigger question is who might she bring as a plus one?? What I try to live by is When in doubt, DON’T!! You can generally undo what you have NOT done. But what you already have done is done.

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  2. Somehow this is comforting to those of us who remember when she was seen as an equal to Adolf Hitler. Her Karma definitely got her back! Good!

    Reply
    • Well that tradition got passed on to that loser Trump who thought Hitler did good things. Trump will fry in hell for that and many other things in

      Reply
  3. Uh…who is Anita Bryant??? and why are we talking about something that happened like a million years ago 😅. Slow and boring news day.

    Reply
    • Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. So if a conservative backlash occurs you will understand. And in the present political climate it could easily happen in the 2022 elections. It is later than you think, Gabriel.

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    • Gabriel, while you have a right to your opinion. Keep in mind, your ignorance is what’s wrong with our community in the first place. If you think this was just years ago and it doesn’t matter remember that when you are discriminated against for just being who you are, or better yet educate yourself as to how you are free to be who you are today! So, go ahead and roll your eyes be that person! But remember this, that news you read today wasn’t slow and boring! What have you and people like yourself done for our community? You don’t get to just have fun while everyone else protects your rights!

      Reply
      • Honey, I’m going out for cocktails 🍸 wake me if something interesting happens in the news today and not from something boring from the past. It’s long over, move on!

        Reply

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