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big gay disney's big gay boat ride

6.6.98

"We're here for everybody. What do these people want from us?"
- Roy Disney in response to criticism of Disney World's Gay Days

Every June since 1995, Orlando's Disney World has been the site of Gay Days, a three-day congregation of thousands of gays and lesbians. The event is sponsored by gay groups, not by Disney -- which nonetheless welcomes all those gay dollars. One group, however, firmly opposes such a gathering: Operation Rescue, whose national director, Rev. Philip "Flip" Benham, has vowed to disrupt the proceedings with protests inside the Magic Kingdom.

You gotta love Operation Rescue -- they're so easy to knock down. Apparently not content to interfere with women's wombs and make themselves look like supreme assholes, they now plan to harass gay vacationers and make themselves look like supreme assholes. Their goal, says Rev. Flip, is to "rid the nation of the disease-ridden homosexual lifestyle .... We don't hate homosexuals and we don't hate Disney, but they both have a choice: Be saved or feel the wrath of God. Gay Days is when they will get a small taste of that wrath."

Such rhetoric is irresponsible and dangerous. Operation Rescue's viciously intolerant tactics have led to a climate that breeds clinic bombings and outright murder of clinic workers. It will very likely also lead to violence against gays. These people have proven they don't know when to stop. And they've proven the depth of their bigotry by promising to disrupt an innocent gathering of people. Now, if you genuinely believe that abortion or homosexuality is wrong, you have a right to that opinion and you have a right to speak and write about it. Teeny thing called freedom of speech. What you don't have a right to do is harass people. That doesn't make you a crusader, it makes you a stalker with a cause.

To Disney's credit, they plan to greet this harassment with the appropriate police action. If Operation Rescue storms the Magic Kingdom, they will be shown the door. Which is only fair. That falls under public disturbance of peace, and is illegal. Still, Gay Days is deserving of some sort of protest -- not by homophobes, but by gay people. Disney doesn't organize Gay Days, but they do sit back and count all those gay dollars, like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his vault of coins. Disney likes to preach tolerance, and Roy Disney is probably enjoying his role as the defender of gay rights (or, at least, the rights of 100,000 gay people to spend money at Disney World for three days).

But...have you watched any Disney cartoons lately? They're full of Evil Fags. POCAHONTAS, with its boringly PC message, was ironically the worst offender, with its swishy villain who had a foppish dog named Percy. Scar in THE LION KING certainly reads as a backstabbing gay stereotype. Gaston in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was a classic overcompensating latent homosexual. Then there was the ab-fab Ursula in THE LITTLE MERMAID, a drag queen if ever there was one. Even the villains in ALADDIN and HUNCHBACK, while lusting after the heroines, come across visually as homosexual caricatures.

So, on one side we have Disney World embracing gays and their money, while the Disney studio perpetuates anti-gay stereotypes in their cartoons for kids. Meanwhile, Rev. Flip whines that Disney is in bed with those disease-ridden homosexuals, when, if he saw their movies, he might find a kindred spirit. As an added irony, Disney owns Miramax, which released Alexander Payne's brilliant abortion satire CITIZEN RUTH a couple years back -- not to mention PRIEST. I guess it's true what they say -- nothing is funnier or weirder than real life.


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