The Stonewall Riots in 1969 leading to the first Gay Pride Parade in 1970 started a public discourse on LGBT rights (The Stonewall Riots). In the years to follow, two opposing mass movements manifested: the LGBT movement and the Religious Right movement. The LGBT movement aimed to get equal rights for homosexuals. The Religious Right focused on stopping the perceived moral decay of America and protecting children from lesbians and gays. While these movements had polar opposite goals, they used surprisingly similar methods to get their messages across.
Both the LGBT movement and the Religious Right movement attempted to make their mark by having someone run for public office. These politicians were in the perfect place to mobilize and convince the public of their goals. Politicians like Harvey Milk, who ran for the city board of supervisors, for the LGBT side made sure that everyone heard the minority view and served mainly to educate.
Harvey was a wholesome, relatable man with a strong Navy background. When asked about being the gay candidate, he made sure that everyone knew that he was "for the sensibilities of all people" (The Times of Harvey Milk). He was a down to earth small business owner, running a small camera shop. This background in photography helped him because he knew the value of a picture moment. He made sure to surround himself with many different minority groups in order to be portrayed in pictures as a down to earth, involved candidate. Also, he was a master of getting into the press. When supporting a bill to force people to clean up after their dogs, he planted a pile of dog poop and stepped in it on camera.
The Religious Right was also very good at getting into the press. They mastered the sound byte-the short memorable slogans/phrases. This is shown nicely with Nancy Reagan's slogan from the 80s, "Just say no." The 80s was an important time for the Religious right because they got the Republican Party on their side. This meant that they had a lot of politicians arguing their views. People like Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, and other religious political figures made sure that the people knew what the "Christian" thing to do was. They knew they had the majority voting block, so they very intentionally played towards those people's wishes.
While this LGBT/Religious Right battle over the American public happened mostly in the political realm in the 80s and 90s, in the 70s it was mainly a grassroots effort on both sides. The Religious Right had it much easier in terms of grassroots organizing because they had pre-existing outlets for widespread grassroots efforts: churches. The Religious Right already had a system of thousands of communities already joined under the principle of Christianity. Most of their work was done for them! All they had to do then was to convince everybody that homosexuality is a directly opposed to Christianity or Christian people. Because they didn't need to...