Anita Bryant and the Orange Bird

16 Feb
Orange Bird Vinylmation at D Street, WDW Downtown Disney

Orange Bird Vinylmation at D Street, WDW Downtown Disney

The Orange Bird’s been popping up lately in a lot of Walt Disney World merchandise, including the cute little Vinylmation above.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the Orange Bird without thinking of Anita Bryant, with whom the little cute was originally associated. When I was at Walt Disney World last month, all the Orange Bird stuff was really bugging me. As a Northern California child in the 1970s, I remember boycotting orange juice to protest her stand against lesbian and gay rights. From glbtq.com:

The first glbtq boycott to receive considerable media attention took place in 1977 when Anita Bryant, a pop singer and former Miss Oklahoma then employed as a spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, founded an organization called Save Our Children, which was dedicated not to the welfare of children but to the repeal of a Dade County, Florida ordinance that protected gay men and lesbians from discrimination in employment and housing.

(I love this sign I found on flickr — seems like old times!)

The boycott seems to have had some impact, freeing the Orange Bird from its homophobic associations. From WidenYourWorld:

From that point forward Bryant was irrevocably linked to the controversy and the Florida Citrus Commission opted not to continue their relationship with the singer.  The Orange Bird, having never expressed so much as one sunny thought about gay rights, emerged from this turbulence untarnished but without a vocal proponent of his stature.

I still can’t help but think of Anita Bryant when I see the Orange Bird; somehow I never heard that they’d broken up. But I must admit, he’s cute. And he did dump her, after all. So what the heck, I’ll go ahead and enjoy all that sunny Orange Bird merch that’s been showing up lately.

8 Responses to “Anita Bryant and the Orange Bird”

  1. George Taylor February 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Great post…

    It is a disappointing moment in WDW history, but at least we can still enjoy the Orange Bird!

  2. Jennifer February 16, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    Thanks!

    And as far as I’m concerned, it’s a happy moment in Disney history now, given how it all ended up.

  3. George Taylor February 16, 2011 at 6:59 pm #

    That is a good point. (I think I am more bothered by the fact that Disney is cashing in on nostalgia that they “got rid of”.)

  4. Jennifer February 16, 2011 at 7:14 pm #

    I hear ya, George. It took a while for me to get okay with it, actually. But now the Orange Bird and me, we’re cool.

  5. Trace February 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Shortly after dating Lisa I was fully educated about the evils of Anita Bryant and her association to the Orange Bird that I so love. Of corse during the late 70s in Fort Worth, TX we had no idea. This was good reading durning Algebra class.

  6. Michelle Swanson February 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I’ve felt the same way about the Orange Bird. I remember as a kid thinking that Anita Bryant was an awful hateful lady to be so pretty AND on TV. I don’t know that I knew then what she was being hateful about (I grew up smack-dab in the Bible belt and there certainly weren’t any gay people out in my hometown) but I know for years, long after I could remember why, I felt kinda queasy about orange juice and have never really drank it as a result. If my experience is any example, then the Florida Orange Council was right in severing its ties with this hateful, pretty…errr…pretty hateful lady.

  7. Hedy February 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    My thoughts on the bird exactly!

  8. John Rozum February 20, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    I’m well aware of what a rotten human being Anita Bryant is, but as you point out, this cute little mascot was NOT speaking on her behalf.

    Having returned from WDW just a couple days ago I was troubled by the fact that the shirts featuring the Orange Bird were only available in women’s cut t-shirts. There’s a stand pretty much devoted to the shirts to the right of the America pavilion in EPCOT.

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