Good news for the pride community. After a hiatus of two long years, gay days at Disney World are back! This was earlier an annual event, where celebrations of LGBTQA+ celebrate the pride in being queer on these days.
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Gay Days at Disney World
This is one of the largest celebrations of being queer around the world. Disney World hosts some of the biggest events for these celebrations. However, the park was closed due to the pandemic, and celebrations stalled. But, cheers to this year and lulling of the pandemic, gays days are back at Disney World in full swing!
So, before celebrating and indulging ourselves in these celebrations, let’s look at a brief history of Gay Days at Disney World.
How did it begin?
It started with a Private Party celebrated in Disneyland, California, in the 1960s-1970s. In those days, the Disney Company used to rent the space of Disneyland to several corporations and organizations who used to host these “Private Parties.”
These were usually held after the park’s closing hours, in the evening. It required a separate ticket if anyone wanted to attend these (parties, much like the “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” or “Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.”)
But, what was dissimilar is that Disney didn’t sell those tickets. Instead, the organization or the corporation hosting these parties were the ticket sellers. Moreover, at least seven thousand people were required to organize these parties.
Usually, the parties were held at the Disneyland off-season when the park closed at 6 pm. Also, the party tickets were cheaper than the park tickets. Hence, these parties were the hub of gatherings for many Southern Californians in those days!
Many organizations even made several standing organizations for their company to visit maybe once a year. Elizabeth Taylor once rented this space to celebrate her 60-year birthday, and thousands of friends were invited.
The turn of events occurred in 1978 or 1979 when a group of gay persons decided to rent this space for an evening. However, they had two types of problems.
Back in those days, homosexuality was taboo. So, in no way was Disney going to rent a group of gay individuals to arrange a private party at Disneyland.
Moreover, the more strategical or practical problem was that they lacked an organization that could represent that. Without that, they won’t even be able to posit the problem.
How were the parties held?
They made Greater Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar Association solve this problem, as those were gay restaurants and bars.
They didn’t keep any name that had any close hint to their identity. So, once this organization was formed, they asked Disney for permission without mentioning that the organization had anything to do with gays.
However, before the main event, Disney learned about all these and made efforts to cancel the party. However, the association sent them legal notice forcing them to back down.
Even though the party enjoyed uninterruptedly, the next day, Disney issued a letter of apology to its employees, saying that they regretted that the employees had to work in such adverse conditions.
Most obviously, when in the next year, Greater Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar Association approached them for another private party, Disney didn’t let the ’deviants’ arrange one. However, the present Six Flags Magic Mountain which was Knott’s Berry Farm and Magic Mountain back then, happily hosted them.
In the subsequent years, many homosexual people faced harassment for being close publicly. They were doing something as trivial as dancing together.
But, the guards said touch dancing was not allowed for homosexual people, and as it was a family space, only heterosexual couples could do that. There were some civil cases against Disney as well in this period.
However, in these lawsuits, Disney reassessed and backed down. Thus, in 1991, a group of Orlando men decided to go to Magic Kingdom on the first Saturday of June to promote the idea of a gay gathering.
They requested the attendees to wear red shirts as a token of identity. Around 1500 people showed up, marking the beginning of celebrating Gay Days.
How things eventually changed
Even if Disney said they didn’t discriminate against anyone, they also posted signboards notifying guests that a gay and lesbian gathering was happening nearby. However, Disney received flak for doing so as well.
They removed the signs in 1995. In 1995, around 50,000 visitors gathered to celebrate Gay Days at Magic Kingdom. In 1998, rainbow flags were also introduced to welcome guests.
Now, the celebrations last a week. One can wonder whether Disney grew interested in human rights or just saw profit in this growing consciousness, but it never intervened after that. Instead, it started making merchandise, and gay lesbian bisexual asexual queer pride was taken to a new market level.
Gay Days at Disney World 2022
So, after the two years slump this year, there have been many apprehensions and expectations. But, Disney World has revamped the celebrations. It had refueled its stock of merchandise as well.
Also, starting from the Gays days till June 30, 100% of it will go to charity if you buy anything. There are many activities, attractions, snacks, and other stuff. This will continue all through the months.
The Gay Days at Disney World commenced on:
- June 2: Thursday- Animal Kingdom, 7:30 AM- 8:00 PM, Red Shirts’ Day
- June 3: Friday- Hollywood Studios, 8:30 AM- 9:00 PM
- June 4: Saturday- Magic Kingdom, 9:00 AM- 11:00 PM
- June 5: Sunday- EPCOT, 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
If you have missed the Gay Days at Disney World, you will still find some celebrations related to this event throughout June. Since June is pride month, the entire month will have the rainbow flag hoisted high.