Oct. 6 will still be free day, despite plan for Gay Day

By : AnitaHeading
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A state-mandated “free day” at The Holy Land Experience has led to a new LGBT gathering in the works.

Some members of the LGBT community and their supporters plan to visit the theme park on Tuesday, Oct. 6, during its state-mandated free admission day. The move came after Orlando DJ and journalist Kirk Hartlage sent a release tipping off the community to the free date and encouraging LGBTs to wear red and attend. The gathering comes just ahead of this year’s Come Out With Pride weekend, but is not an official kick-off event.

“This is designed in the same spirit that the original Gay Day at Disney was, that it was a complete grassroots effort to bring the community together,” said Hartlage. “The fact that Holy Land chose to have their court-mandated free day during Pride week is happenstance, but it seemed like a perfect opportunity and an open invitation.”

Dr. David Baker-Hargrove, senior executive producer of Come Out With Pride, wants to make it clear that the Holy Land excursion is not related to the Metropolitan Business Association or the Come Out With Pride organizing committee.

“It is being organized completely independently of the official schedule of Come Out With Pride,” Baker-Hargrove said, “and there is no relationship between the Oct. 6 event and the Come Out With Pride Events Schedule.”

Come Out With Pride officially begins with the Hero’s Ball at the History Center on Thursday, Oct. 8.

As to the proximity in the two dates—that’s in part thanks to  the Florida State Legislature, which passed a law in 2006 declaring Trinity Broadcasting Network’s The Holy Land Experience a religious organization, saving it about $300,000 in property taxes each year.

“In order to keep its tax-exempt status, after a court challenge by the Orange County Property Appraiser, Holy Land must offer a non-restrictive free admission day once a year,” Hartlage said.

Theme park employees became aware of the unofficial event after the story was picked up by several media outlets online. John Casoria, spokesman for Trinity Broadcasting Network and The Holy Land Experience, said the park welcomes all guests.

“We wish the organizers of this event would have let us know, and it’s unfortunate they chose not to do so and we had to find out through a blogger,” Casoria said. “But it should provide to us an amazing and unique Christian ministry experience for everyone at the park that day.”

There has been some concern among LGBTs interested in participating that The Holy Land Experience would simply change the free admission day, but Casoria said that won’t happen.

“The fact that the Holy Land’s free admission day is two days prior to Come Out With Pride is more random than coincidental, but we’re not changing the date,” he said. “The date is the date. Everyone in Orlando that wants to come to the Holy Land Experience park on that day is welcome. It’ll be business as usual.”

Details for the day are still being determined and will be available on WatermarkOnline.com once they are finalized.

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