Gay Days at Walt Disney World began in 1991 as a single designated day (the first Saturday in June) when the LGBTQ+ community and friends were encouraged to “Wear Red and Be Seen” (aka #RedShirtDay) while visiting the world’s most popular theme park. The Gay Days Orlando’s Celebration has since grown exponentially and is now a vacation experience that occurs over 7 days during the first week of June (the dates are supposed to change to August in 2019 but that’s its own story). The week long affair is comprised of multiple events staged at world famous attractions, gay & lesbian nightclubs, and unique venues secured for the purpose of creating an inclusive LGBTQ+ atmosphere. Committed to diversity and inclusion, Gay Days welcomes young, old, all races and beliefs, parents, AA groups, straight allies and every other section of the community (thank-you, Gay Days website).
Joe and I have been staunch supporters and allies of the LGBTQ+ community for what seems like forever. So once we moved to Orlando, we’ve made it our business to go to WDW during Gay Days as often as we can, to support our friends, to just have a good time and, I admit it, to see all the really funny shirts that people wear. These are some of the ones I’ve taken pictures of throughout the years…
(heads up that several of these are suggestive and a small handful are downright naughty and probably NSFW.)
Over the past 15 years or so, we’ve seen some changes when we’ve gone to Gay DayS:
- There’s been a gradual increase in rainbow-colored merchandise sold. Gay Days at WDW has never been an event officially sanctioned by Disney; they were just another large group of people who decided to go to WDW at the same time, the same as, for example, convention goers or church groups. But Disney has almost always been progressive, open and gay-friendly over the decades (as well as always willing to squeeze an extra few dollars out of each guest), and in the past 10 years or so, has released more and more merchandise in the spring that could be the perfect purchase by those looking for rainbows 😉
- There are more and more people at Gay Days who are willing to show public displays of affection. Kisses on the lips or cheek, hand holding, etc. You know, just like straight couples ;-). Thinking as far back as when we used to go in the early 2000s, even though there would be literally thousands of LGBTQ+ people in the parks, you rarely saw PDAs like you would with straight couples. Now you do.
- Whereas in long past years, Gay Days was filled with lots of same sex couples and LGBTQ+ singles, we’ve seen a gradual increase, especially in the past 5 years or so, in M-M or F-F families with kids. What a great way for families with same sex parents to connect with families just like theirs, and enjoy a Disney vacation at the same time!
- We’ve noticed a gradual decrease in red shirts, and LGBTQ+ people at Magic Kingdom, in general, on #redshirtday. There could be a few reasons for this:
—– Disney has become MUCH more expensive over time (it cost $18 to get into the parks for 1 day in 1983. It’s now upwards of over $137 for 1 day) and simply may not be affordable for some people to visit every year.
—– Over the years, Gay Days has also spread itself out to other places such as New Orleans, Disneyland, etc., so the attendees may be spreading their vacations out to other places.
—– As a country, we’re simply much more progressive and open than we were when Gay Days started in 1991. Marriage between two people of the same gender is finally legal in the U.S., and overall acceptance of people from the LGBTQ+ community, although still not universal yet, is still loads more than it was almost 30 years ago. So I’d like to think that although Gay Days is still a fun get together for those it’s meant to serve, maybe more of our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters no longer NEED a week where they can go somewhere “safe” and just be themselves, because they finally get to enjoy that in their everyday lives, just like the rest of us. For their sake, I certainly hope that’s the main reason!
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