Home   About    Cast    Filmmaker  Crew   Screenings   News   Mailing List    Funding   Contact
About the Film

In the heart-wrenching documentary LETTER TO ANITA, award-winning filmmaker Andrea Meyerson explores the painful legacy of singer Anita Bryant's infamous anti-gay campaign of the late 1970s. Narrated by Emmy-nominated actress Meredith Baxter, LETTER TO ANITA tells the story of Ronni Sanlo, a married mother of two who came out as a lesbian and divorced her husband, losing custody of her children as a result—an injustice that propelled Ronni into a life of LGBT activism.

anita_bryantAnita Bryant, a former Miss America pageant contestant, was the spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission in the late 1970s when she began a highly visible anti-gay campaign disingenuously called "Save Our Children." Bryant not only helped overturn a Dade County ordinance outlawing discrimination against gays; she set off a broader wave of anti-gay sentiment nationwide. Thanks to her efforts, gay and lesbian parents across the country faced new legal difficulties and saw their families torn apart.

Ronni Sanlo was caught in the crossfire of this culture war. She had denied her true self for years, ultimately fulfilling her own parents' wishes by marrying a man and starting a family. When she finally acknowledged that she was a lesbian and asked her husband for a divorce, he responded by taking advantage of anti-gay laws and denying Ronni custody of their son and daughter. For a time, she was allowed short visits with the children, but eventually those visits were stopped altogether. Ronni was devastated.

activismLETTER TO ANITA tells the moving story of how Ronni turned her lowest moment—the loss of her children—into the springboard for a life in LGBT activism. She began fighting on behalf of gay men and lesbians, as well as people with HIV / AIDS, in a time when these were taboo topics in American society. As the head of the Florida Gay Civil Rights Task Force, she fought unjust legislation. Later, as an AIDS surveillance officer for the state of Florida, she was on the front lines of helping AIDS sufferers. Along the way, she earned a doctorate, and then became a pioneer of gay and lesbian outreach on college campuses, starting with the University of Michigan.

And still, she couldn't see her own children. For as much good work as she was doing, Ronni still battled feelings of anger, resentment and depression. Where were her son and daughter? Did they ever think about her? Would she ever see them again? Under the name "Save Our Children," Anita Bryant had actually torn families apart. Did Bryant herself have any idea of the damage she had wrought?

LETTER TO ANITA traces Ronni's moving story against the backdrop of the broader gay civil rights movement. A fascinating look at a tumultuous period in American society, the film reveals what ultimately happened to Ronni's children, to Anita Bryant's own family, and to Ronni herself. With jaw-dropping archival footage, interviews with Ronni and her son, and the first on-camera interview with Anita Bryant's son Robert Green, LETTER TO ANITA paints a riveting portrait of what anti-gay discrimination can do to families—and how its destructive power can ultimately backfire on itself.

Sign Up for Our Email Newsletter