Feature

When Disney goes gay for the day

The "Gay Days" event at Disney World had a modest start, says John Cloud in Time, but it has grown into one of the largest gay pride events in the U.S.

On the first Saturday in June, gay men and lesbians from across the U.S. don red shirts and congregate at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., for "one of the largest gay-pride events in the world," says John Cloud in Time. The event started in 1991, when a few thousand gays and lesbians from central Florida, hoping to make their community "more visible," gathered at the Magic Kingdom — "a sort of flash mob before the term existed." In the 20 years since, Gay Days has grown into a six-day convention, with parties and celebrations, culminating in a 30,000-strong trip to Disney World to enjoy the rides with friends and families. The event is now something of a cultural touchstone for gay couples starting families of their own. Here, an excerpt:

"For many gays and lesbians who grew up in the latter half of the 20th century, childhood was a time of anxiety and secrets, faggot jokes and spitballs. There was, literally and figuratively, no 'Glee'. Going on the teacup ride or getting wet on Splash Mountain was a way to reclaim an unfinished adolescence. By 1995, at least 10,000 gays and lesbians were traveling to Orlando for the gay day at Disney.

...Even though Disney has never officially sanctioned Gay Days and has asked employees to treat the first Saturday in June just like any other day, Christian-right groups have scolded the company for doing nothing to stop the event. For eight years after Gay Days began, the Southern Baptist Convention boycotted Disney. But it's unclear what, specifically, conservatives wanted park officials to do — ban anyone in a red shirt on the first Saturday in June?"

Read the full article in Time.

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