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.