The Happiest Place on Earth: Gay Days at Disney World
June 9, 2010
In Orlando, Florida last week, thousands of LGBT people from around the world descended on Disney World and participated in a week-long series of LGBT activities known as “Gay Days.” HRC’s field team partnered with volunteers from HRC’s outstanding Orlando Steering Committee to staff HRC tables at the Gay Days Expo. We talked to thousands of people from around the nation (and from other nations) about the critical work we are doing at HRC to overturn the discriminatory Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law, to pass a fully inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act in the House this year, and to work steadily for marriage and family equality across the nation. Gay Days, and other Pride events that are occurring around the nation this month, and throughout the year, do the important political work of bringing us together as a community for sustenance and solidarity and offer a way to educate those who may not have an opportunity to see large groups of LGBT people out in public. I had two particular experiences at Gay Days that brought home these points to me. One was a conversation I had with a young woman who came up to our HRC booth at the expo—she said that she came to Gay Days because she is not out at work, school or home and wanted to be able to be open and free for a couple of days. For those of us able to live our lives openly all the time, this is a sober reminder of how so many in our community continue to live lives of secrecy and fear. That is why HRC is working so hard for the cultural and legal changes necessary for every LGBT American to live fully and freely. The other poignant moment came for me on the Monorail on the way into Disney World. There we were in our HRC t-shirts after a long day of working, trying to catch the Electric Light Parade and fireworks show, and we began to chat with a nice Asian American family that was also on their way into the Park. When the husband asked what HRC meant, David Turley, one of HRC’s field organizers, jumped at the opportunity to educate—“we are the largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization in the country!” Pause. “Are you gay?” the father asked David. Yes. And is she gay? Yup. And he? Yes. A longer pause. “Well, all right!” the father exclaims, with a thumbs up. This moment, on our way into Disney World was, appropriately, one of the happiest I’ve had in a while. We ended up palling around with he, his wife and young son for part of our time in the park that evening. To me, this is what Gays Days, and Pride events across the land, can and should do for our movement. It makes me proud to be part of HRC where we are working all day, every day, to make the world—not just at Disney—the happiest place for all of us.
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