Yesterday, Tony Overheu, a 67-year-old “devout Christian,” hit Alan Joyce, the openly gay CEO of the Australian airline Qantas, in the face with a cream pie because of the CEO’s support of same-sex marriage, something Overheu describes as “corporate bullying aimed at social engineering.” Joyce says he will press charges.
Since 1970, pie-ing has a been a form of protest and “political theater” usually committed by left-wing activists against people seen as hostile to progressive social policies and human rights. So in light of Joyce’s pieing, here are three times that pies successfully hit their anti-LGBTQ targets.
Phyllis Schlafly in 1977
During her long and inglorious career, conservative anti-LGBTQ activist Phyllis Schlafly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed U.S. Constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens regardless of gender. She worried it would take away women’s restrooms and force women to be drafted into the military; she would later cite her opposition to the ERA as connected to her opposition to same-sex marriage.
Activist Aron Kay hit Schlafly with an apple pie at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City on Saturday, April 16, 1977. He said he used an apple pie specifically because, “It was in tradition of motherhood and apple pie.” Indeed, in her campaign against the ERA, Schlafly and her cohorts had taken apple pies to state legislators’ offices, reaffirming conservative gender roles with the slogan, “I am for Mom and apple pie.” You can see a photo of Kay about to hit Schlafly with the pie.
Anita Bryant in 1977
On October 14, 1977 gay rights activist Thom Higgins carried out what has become the most famous pieing in LGBTQ history when he smashed a pie into the face of Anita Bryant, a folk singer and orange juice brand ambassador for the Florida Citrus Commission.
That same year, Bryant had become the leader of Save Our Children, a homophobic organization that spread fears of “homosexual recruitment” and child molestation to successfully oppose a Dade County, Florida non-discrimination ordinance protecting gays. The gay community had started boycotting Florida orange juice as a result of Bryant’s involvement. Gay bars reportedly “stopped selling screwdrivers and instead sold Anita Bryants, made with vodka and apple juice, the proceeds from which went to a fund that would help to fight against Bryant.”
Higgins eventually caught up with Bryant during a TV appearance in Des Moines, Iowa and pied her on camera — the video of it has since become iconic. After being hit with the pie, Bryant replied, “At least it’s a fruit pie,” before bursting into tears and then praying for God to forgive the activist.
Fred Phelps in 1999
Fred Phelps — the patriarchal founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, the incredibly angry fundamentalist anti-LGBTQ hate group known for their hatefully tacky day-glo signs baring slogans like “God hates fags” — got pied in the face by an San Fransisco ACT UP activist disguised as a nun.
Phelps and his cohorts were protesting then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s officiating of a mass domestic partners ceremony at City Hall. According to a March 26, 1999 press release from the Biotic Baking Brigade (which took credit for the pieing): “Two activists dressed in nun’s habits tossed four vegan and organic banana tofu pies into the hate-twisted faces of Phelps’s entourage as part of ‘Operation: Second Phelping.’”
The anonymous Brigade also semi-successfully tried to pie conservative pundit Ann Coulter who later described them as “the ‘terrorist’ group Al Pieda.”