1977 Gay and Lesbian Protest Against Anita Bryant at Norfolk Scope
At this location on June 8, 1977, several hundred members of the gay and lesbian community of the greater Norfolk area held a public protest against singer Anita Bryant as she performed at Norfolk Scope. The protest was a response to Bryant's organization "Save Our Children" that attempted to repeal or prevent the passage of statutes protecting the rights of LGBTQ people. Bryant made a series of inflammatory public statements in the spring of 1977, accusing homosexual men of seeking to corrupt America's youth. After hundreds of Norfolk residents protested against Bryant, thousands of formerly-closeted gay men and women mobilized by organizing protests at Bryant's concerts in other American cities. By the end of the year, several thousand gay men and women had made taken their first public stance in defense of their rights. In cities such as Chicago and Houston, protests outside of Anita Bryant concerts attracted national attention because of the violence perpetrated against homosexual people and gay rights activists. The protests against Bryant continued, and while many defended her views, the violence of some of these individuals led many of Bryant's fans to abandon her. The appearance of Klan members who defended Bryant at a Huntington, West Virginia concert did little to help the singer's cause. Protests against Bryant grew into protests in favor of gay rights, swelling the size of planned gay rights marches in cities like Los Angeles to include thousands of participants.
Backstory and Context
A second protest against Bryant and "Save Our Children occurred on October 7th in Richmond. This protest at the University of Richmond led to the creation of the Richmond Gay Rights Association. According to participant Neal Parsons, supporting the protest required many formerly closeted men and women to be photographed by reporters. This protest against Bryant became the first of many similar protests against the singer. Each protest helped to galvanize LGBTQ communities across the country as members of those communities made the choice to appear in public and make a stand against the actions of Bryant and others who portrayed homosexuals as deviants.