It's that time of year again! Orlando Gay Days is taking place June 1 - June 7, with many (but not all!) events taking place at Walt Disney World.I find it amusing, and a tad frustrating, that I've never managed to make it to Gay Days at either Orlando or Anaheim. If you're a regular Jentasmic! reader, you might've noticed I have a few things to say about issues affecting the LGBT community. I must say, I'm especially proud of my June 6, 2008 column, Glitter and Be Gay!, essential background reading for anyone who wants to understand me better. On the other hand, history or film buffs might find my column on High School Musical 2 and the Hays Code a little more engaging.
Not having been to Gay Days, I can't comment on some of the controversies that swirl around it. I don't know if people wear inappropriate t-shirts. I haven't seen how other Guests respond to perhaps-unexpected throngs of festive folks in bright red shirts.
But I do know that when Gay Days roll around, some people get a little uncomfortable. Not the gays, mind you, who are quite happily roaming the parks (and offsite events), enjoying the 3:00 parade (sometimes with their kids), having a Dole Whip float, and spending too much money on souvenirs just like everybody else. It's, well, some of the non-queer Guests who seem to get a little twitchy, seemingly uncomfortable with being outnumbered by those who are different from themselves. (But absolutely not all of the non-queer Guests are like that. For example, serious props to the podcasters who respond to questions about Gay Days with straightforward advice about crowd levels, rather than invoking more hateful questions that might've been implied. You know who you are.)
If you're one of the twitchy people, I ask you to take a moment to think: Maybe some LGBT people feel a little twitchy and uncomfortable too when we're outnumbered, which is most of the time. Sure, most of us grow thicker skins than that, given what it's like to grow up knowing you're "different," but for many of us there's still a little twitch that remains.
Trust me: Being queer isn't always as much fun as Neil Patrick Harris and Ellen DeGeneres make it look. There are some bumps in the road, some scary moments, just like everybody has scary moments in life. In a way, there's nothing all that special about being queer: Everybody in life faces challenges of one sort or another, everybody knows somebody who doesn't like them, everybody's had to say something they were scared to come out with now and then.
Maybe these are all things that people can keep in mind if they find themselves facing one of the questions I sometimes hear from the twitchy straight people: Will my children see men holding hands? Will I have to explain to them about homosexuality? And actually, yeah, if you're at Gay Days that just might happen. It also just might happen at your local shopping mall or church, or if your child reads the newspaper from time to time. And your kids will be just fine if you explain to them that yes, those guys in the red shirts holding hands are just regular people who happen to want to hold hands with other guys, and love each other just like mom and dad do. And no, you don't have to explain anything about sex, unless your kid is old enough that you feel like that's the right thing to do. In which case once again you're just like us queer parents, because we're not all that crazy about explaining sex to our kids either.
I love hearing about Gay Days being such a happy celebration in one of the most magical places on earth. I know there's some controversy now and then, perhaps an inappropriate t-shirt, perhaps a snide remark. But I just can't let myself focus on that. I'm just glad that somebody's feeling included, hiting all my favorite rides, maybe even going to the High School Musical pep rally. And remember, everybody's welcome to join the party, dance along, make friends, chat with the festive red-shirts, no matter what your sexual orientation. We're all in this together. Everybody deserves a little pixie dust.