Gay Days at Walt Disney World
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Gay Days at Walt Disney World is a loosely organized event where lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, their families, friends and supporters go to Walt Disney World on a single day each year. It is held on the first Saturday in June (with numerous other events in the area during the preceding week).
The first documented event, in June 1991, had 3,000 gays and lesbians from central Florida going to area theme parks on one day wearing red shirts to make their presence more visible. By 1995, the event had grown to 10,000 gays and lesbians traveling for the gay day at Disney. As of 2010 approximately 150,000 LGBT people, their families, friends and supporters attended the six-day gathering (including various pool parties, conventions, festivals, a business expo, activities for kids, etc.) with 20,000 to 30,000 going to Disney on the final day.
The popularity of the event is seen by some attendees as a way of "reclaiming" normal joys of childhood lost to homophobia in their earlier years. Growth in attendance also reflects the growing number of LGBT families with children as well as increasing number of LGBT marriages, since Disney World is also a top honeymoon destination. A local Doubletree resort has dubbed itself the "official" hotel for the event, with convention space rented to various businesses (bathroom remodelers, gourmet cooking suppliers, sex toys, etc.) and organizations (free health tests, vaccinations, etc.) pitching to attendees.
Gay Days have attracted criticism from both religious groups and LGBT individuals. While Disney does not sanction Gay Days (and officially tells employees to treat it as any other summer day), conservative Christian groups accuse Disney of not doing anything to stop the event. The Southern Baptist Convention boycotted Disney for eight years. The Florida Family Association flew banner planes one year warning families of gay events at Disney that weekend, citing emails from people nationwide who unknowingly booked their vacation during Gay Days. Janet Porter, president of the Christian organization "Faith 2 Action", is highly critical of the event. She encouraged families to re-think visiting Walt Disney World. She told families to expect to see "cross-dressing men parading public displays of perversion" during their visit.
- Cloud, John (June 21, 2010). "How Gay Days Made a Home at Disney World". Time.
- Busdeker, Jon (May 31, 2013). "'Warning: Gay Day at Disney 6/1' Banner Flown over Central Florida". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Wong, Curtis (June 5, 2014). "Disney World's 'Gay Days' Slammed by Religious Right Activist Janet Porter". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 8, 2015.