Letter to Anita

In 1978, Dr. Ronni Sanlo came out and got divorced. But this was in Florida, home of orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant and her “Save Our Children from Homosexuality” campaign. In this repressive environment, Ronni’s ex-husband and his Christian fundamentalist parents ensured that she lost custody of her two young kids. This loss turned Sanlo into an activist overnight.

Remaining in Florida to be near her kids, Sanlo helped defeat the Bush-Trask amendment denying state funding to higher education institutions that supported gay student groups. She provided HIV/AIDS support services and care during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Meanwhile, Sanlo’s kids were being raised to be homophobic and AIDS-phobic. They broke contact with their mom—fearing contracting HIV because of Sanlo’s work.

Later, Sanlo worked at the nation’s first LGBT Campus Resource Centers at University of Michigan and UCLA, mentoring young people while wondering about her own grown children. Finally reunited with them, Sanlo explains her journey in a letter written to her former nemesis, Anita Bryant, for whom she finds forgiveness and gratitude—Anita Bryant unwittingly gave rise to an energized LGBT civil rights movement. Meredith Baxter narrates parts of the letter and interviews Ronni about her simply incredible journey. Andrea Meyerson, who has documented outstanding performers from Kate Clinton to Bruce Vilanch in her Laughing Matters series, delivers another intimate, stirring film.

USA , 2014 , 55 min.
Director: Andrea Meyerson