Working Anita Bryant: The Impact of Christian Anti-Gay Activism on Lesbian and Gay Movement Claims
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Social movement scholarship claims that opposing movements can create opportunities and generate mobilization for the other side, However, there are still open questions as to how this influence between opposing movements operates on an organizational level. This paper looks closely at one aspect of the impact of opposing movements: rhetorical strategies. I examine historical documents produced by social movement organizations to determine the processes through which interactions between opposing movements are integrated into the everyday work of producing movement claims, This historical analysis evaluates the flyers, newsletters, and press releases of lesbian and gay movement organizations in the United States over time, comparing documents produced before the emergence of the Christian anti-gay counter movement in 1977, with those produced immediately following the counter movement's entry into the political scene. I analyze the shifts in lesbian and gay activists' claims between these two brief time periods and link these changes to the presence of Christian anti-gay activists. I find that frames, tone, and language shift for issues that were directly addressed by the Christian anti-gay movement (lesbian and gay rights), but that no similar change tvas present for issues on which the anti-gay movement remained silent (police harassment and lesbian/gay media representations). These findings support the claim that opposing movements alter the political context in which the other side works, but they also demonstrate that new opportunities produced by an opposing movement may be issue-specific rather than movement-wide.
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