The 45 Biggest Homophobes of Our 45 Years

The LGBT rights movement has had its share of villains. These are some of the worst.

BY Lucas Grindley

August 21 2012 5:00 AM ET



Above from left: Marcus and Michele Bachmann, Anita Bryant, David Bahati

Michele and Marcus Bachmann
Give Congresswoman Bachmann credit this November when Minnesotans go to the polls to vote on whether their state should amend its constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It was her idea, first proposed while she was a state legislator. She’s also proud to be a “small-business owner” who runs a Christian counseling clinic with her husband. In two hidden-camera stings, LGBT rights activists caught the clinic promising patients God can help them change from gay to straight. But remember that Bachmann also thought God wanted her to be president.

Reverend David Renfroe
Before Marcus Bachmann, patients could ask David Renfroe to pray away the gay. He served as director of Anita Bryant’s counseling center. According to a 1979 Advocate article, Renfroe said thousands of homosexuals had come to him and Bryant for help. “You are not even a homosexual,” he told our writer. “There is no such thing. You are merely practicing homosexuality. God created only two sexes. When you call yourself a homosexual, you are saying God created a third sex. There is no such thing.” The clinic fell apart when Bryant went through a messy divorce.

Anita Bryant
The singer turned Florida orange juice pitchwoman turned antigay crusader is one of the few people ever named to The Advocate’s Sissy Hall of Fame; she was inducted in 1990. Bryant smiled in the spotlight as she campaigned to repeal an antidiscrimination ordinance in Miami–Dade County in 1977 — doing it all to Save Our Children (the name of the antigay group she founded). Her campaign led to a voter repeal of the ordinance in June and made her a national icon of the antigay right; gay activists responded by, among other things, throwing a pie at her when she appeared in Des Moines. Following the law of unintended consequences, Bryant succeeded where activists couldn’t in making LGBT rights a national story. “In the weeks before and after Dade County, more was written about homosexuality than during the total history of mankind,” Harvey Milk said later, claiming Bryant’s hatred helped educate the country.

David Bahati
This member of the Ugandan parliament is the author of that country's pending “kill the gays” bill and said in 2010 that he’s doing it to protect the children.

Lyndon LaRouche
When a North Carolina pastor reacted to President Obama’s support for marriage equality by suggesting a quarantine of gays and lesbians behind an electrified fence, it harkened back to the days of failed third-party presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche and his nutty band of followers. A group of his followers calling themselves PANIC, the Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee, actually put a measure on the ballot in California in 1986 that could have led to a quarantine of people with HIV. Among their awareness-boosting slogans was “Spread Panic, Not AIDS.” (The best response to this idea might come from 1985 when Wisconsin minister Craig Hultgren made our Phobies list for using the marquee of his church to suggest “Stop AIDS Now — Quarantine Gays.” A neighboring bookstore with a marquee of its own responded with “Aid Gays — Quarantine Bigots.”)

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