Disney has defied Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” legal crackdown as thousands of people flocked to “Gay Days” events.
People sporting red shirts with “Say Gay” or “Don’t say DeSantis” descended on Orlando for the half-week of pool parties, rides, and drag bingo in celebration of Pride month.
“Right now is not the time to run. It’s not the time to go away,” said Joseph Clark, CEO of Gay Days Inc.
“It’s time to show we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere.”
“The birth of Gay Days was really about being visible at a time when it was dangerous to be visible,” Brandon Wolf of Equality Florida told the Washington Post. “The same is true now.”
However, one event, the Taste of Gay Days, was canceled over restaurateurs’ fears, while dodgeball and flag football tournaments were also scrapped.
Clark said the reservations at the hotel hosting the event were slow.
Others called ahead to ensure they won’t be arrested for attending events, especially after drag shows were threatened with harsh punishments if children attended.
“I don’t blame them for thinking that maybe we’re playing with fire,” Clark said of this year’s attendees.
Attendees came even as some events were scrapped, organizers said.
“For some, it’s the safety aspect; for others, they don’t want to spend money in a state that doesn’t support them,” the event CEO said.
“My message has been, ‘We need your help here in Florida.'”
As The New York Post reported:
One of those regular attendees staying away, Atlanta resident Sara Haynes, said she decided not to visit Florida after lawmakers started planning legislation to restrict treatment options for trans people.
“It’s less a crusade and more like, ‘I’m not going to spend my money where bad things are going on,'” Haynes said.
Others, however, supported Disney, which has made a stand against the legislation even as other Pride events are canceled across Florida over reported safety fears.
“Disney welcomes everybody,” Mark Stegall, who traveled from Illinois with his partner, Robert Motz, told the Washington Post.
“Maybe the governor of Florida doesn’t, but Disney does.”
To show just how welcoming “Gay Days” is, Clark has extended an open invitation for DeSantis to attend one of its drag shows.
“Come on out and see that not everything you hear out there is reality,” Clark said in a message to the governor.
“There’s a part of me that hopes that if he were to see a show, maybe his mind would change, or maybe he would see the people his actions are affecting.”
Neither Disney nor DeSantis responded to the Washington paper’s request for comment on the Gay Days event.
The governor has repeatedly said his legislation is merely protecting children from indoctrination.
“I’m standing for parents. I’m standing for children, and I think a multibillion-dollar company that sexualizes children is not consistent with the values of Florida,” he told “Fox & Friends” soon after announcing his 2024 run.
Disney sued DeSantis, saying the state’s actions violated Disney’s contract rights and arguing that DeSantis’ efforts represented an attempt to curb the company’s First Amendment rights.
CEO Bob Iger has ripped DeSantis’ “retaliation” as “anti-business” and “anti-Florida,” and his company scrapped plans to build a nearly $1 billion corporate campus in central Florida that would have housed 2,000 employees.