The first Gay Day was in 1999, and immediately, religious groups blamed Disney for allowing it to happen.
In 1994, after the crowds swelled to tens of thousands, Disney posted signs at the park entrance that both distanced the park from Gay Day, “We are not sponsoring or promoting it,” and made an attempt at welcoming, “We do not discriminate on any basis.”
The next year, the American Family Association called Gay Day “a mission to pervert American’s children” and every year they take to the media condemning Gay Day and fly banners over the parks that read “WARNING GAY DAY AT DISNEY.”
This isn’t new news, but when I visited the AFA website to research their fundraising efforts for this year’s hate plane, the anti-gay group’s version of the story really hit home how warped their perspective is when it comes to Gay Days and Disney.
Let’s break it down line by line.
AFA: “Disney has prohibited drag queens from entering Disney World since Gay Day 1991 when even the mainstream media reported in a negative light the estimated 1,800 cross dressers in the park with children. Yet, Disney continues to allow thousands of people to wear shirts promoting various alternative lifestyles.”
We’d like to see their documentation on this. Watermark has photos of drag queens in front of the castle playing hula hoop with Disney staff, so…
AFA: I’m just going to paraphrase for them here. They say in a very long-winded manner that gang colors are not okay in Disneyland in California, so red shirts on Gay Day should not be okay at Disneyworld.
Gangs are about violence. The red shirts stem from the very first Gay Day, when it was more dangerous to be openly gay and the distinctive color gave LGBTs a way to identify each other. Gay Day is about community, love and family.
AFA: “Disney provided group discount tickets with a different colored Mickey logo for Gay Day Patrons.”
Oh, the humanity! Again, no proof this ever happened but wow. Talk about petty.
AFA: “Disney paid personnel to greet Gay Day patrons at the front gate.”
Disney pays people to greet visitors every single day. It’s the happiest place on earth, for crying out loud. They want people to feel welcome. (Now I’m thinking about how the AFA would like Disney to address this. What’s the opposite? Should Disney pay employees who, every time they see a visitor in a red shirt, make it a point to turn their back, cross their arms and snub that visitor? Those employees could turn up their noses and say “Hmph,” for good measure.)
AFA: “Disney recruited employees to be guides for groups of Gay Day patrons.”
Apparently the AFA would feel better if the gays just wandered around the Magic Kingdom, utterly lost.
AFA: “Disney gave away Disney tea shirts to people who complained that they did not know that the red shirt they innocently wore meant they supported Gay Day.”
Assuming a tea shirt is the same as a t-shirt… well, I have more of a problem with the people who freaked out about wearing red. OMG! Someone might think I’m a gay!
AFA: “The State of Florida does NOT prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
Well. That is true…and a completely obnoxious thing to say, because we can infer that the AFA would only be happy if Disney were to actively, deliberately discriminate against gay visitors.
AFA: “Disney has the right to prohibit people from entering the park with tee shirts that promote LGBT behavior but deliberately chooses to allow this to occur in the midst of thousands of children.”
Oh, that’s where they were going with that discrimination thing. Apparently no one has told the AFA that gay people also have children. Many, many LGBT families bring those children to the park on Gay Day, and their delighted faces prove they are not scandalized, and are having a wonderful time in the Magic Kingdom.
AFA: “So why doesn’t [sic] Disney and Gay Day organizers want their own unique Gay Day bash at Disney World after the park closes when regular guests won’t be offended and Gay Day patrons can do as they please? The answer is they both want to impact a captured audience of tens of thousands of children.”
Again, loads of gay people have children, too. Gay Day is a family event, AFA. That is why it happens before dark.
AFA: “Disney requires other unique events like Grad Night and Night of Joy to be held after regular operating hours. Disney does this to avoid having a large group of likeminded people in the park at the same time with regular patrons who expect a normal day at Disney World.”
Yes, but much to the consternation of many in the LGBT community, Gay Day is not a Disney event. That’s the other side to this story of Disney and Gay Day.
LGBTs flock to the park by the thousands once a year, spending untold amounts of money on admission, food and souvenirs. Yet Disney doesn’t publicly acknowledge the event. Why? Why has the park never officially declared the first Saturday in June Gay Day? Where are the rainbow flags on Main Street? Where is the LGBT support?
To the religious community, that Disney even allows Gay Day to exist is a tragedy. But the true tragedy is that LGBT-friendly doesn’t go one step farther and support the LGBT community in a large, proud, meaningful way.