Sometimes being gay feels like you’re in a cult. You’re involved with a group of people with a set way of thinking that is far from “normal” and disapproved of by many. Going to an event like Gay Days Anaheim reinforces that cult status—and highlights how weird people are. Gay or straight: people are weird.
This isn’t to say weird is bad: “weird” is passionate. Weird is being so into something that you are out of the norm. Weird is being extremely dedicated to something, so intensely in love, that you will dress and look and act a specific way to adhere to your weird way. That is Gay Days. It is a day when Disney fanaticism collides into the gay experience resulting in red shirts and soft sexual innuendo. It’s the most obvious subculture of a subculture of a subculture.
The gay Disney fan is subculture cubed: they are people who like the same sex and they are the biggest fans of childhood mass media producer, Disney. Gay Days involved a lot of activity but—for lay people and the culturally curious like myself—Gay Days consisted of walking around Disneyland and California Adventure attempting to find other gay people in the swarm of families, to see what the park going gay actually looked like.
It was and wasn’t easy, too. The group is known for wearing red shirts to differentiate themselves (which is a great idea but such a boring, basic color) and obviously made for wonderful confusion between straight dads with families and gay daddies with their boys. The majority of people you saw in shirts were gay white men. The unofficial holiday did seem limited to the majority within the minority—but others were present: small gangs of lesbians popped in and out of crowds, queer parents and their children were in lines, a single trans person wearing a trans pride shirt was seen eating lunch, and there were lots and lots and lots of allies, like straight couples wearing Gay Days shirts to parents of gay persons tagging along in supportive outfits. You had to look hard but there were more than one experience of gay—and LGBTQ—visible.
No one had a problem with it, either. At no point did anyone get heckled or called out (in my view). The Gay Day didn’t overwhelm the normal Disney day everyone was having. There was no anti-gay disturbance. Rainbows and red were very much out there, almost as much as the ubiquitous mouse ears. The park was in on the day but not out about it. It was nice.
Yet, it was weird. As a devout and outspoken non-Disney fan, the weirdness of the day was that people can be this big of a Disney fan. To me, that was the weirder thing to be out about: that you are a big bear into princesses, that you are a twink into Cars, that you are a couple who wear corresponding Disney “I’m His” / “He’s Mine” shirts, that you are a grown ass adult spending time without a child giving money, money, money to Uncle Walt. That to me is fucking weird because being a devout fan of anything is weird—especially when it’s ultimately a corporate entity.
Maybe this is the replacement of religion in the mainstream American LGBTQ experience. Perhaps this is the extra community umph people need to feel like they belong? Whatever the reason, there is a happiness behind it. There was the fun of people wearing shirts that said “TALK DISNEY TO ME” and “I LIKE THE D” in styles that looked like Disneyfied blasphemy. Celebrities of all sorts were there too like Ben De La Creme of Drag Race fame along with alt, pseudo-celebs in gay world like a character from Eastsiders and that chubby chaser from True Life. It was at all times subverting the norm while falling into it. Bears flaunted nipple rings, men wore heels, chubbies heckled boys—but they all did it while wearing Disney paraphernalia. Again: weird.
As we left a day of quiet sexual tension and lots and lots of fairy dust, we laughed the whole way home about getting catcalled and eye fucked all in good fun while an Ariel impersonator wandered around in the distance. We wondered where the top hookup spots are in the park—and how many people got kicked out that day. Disney is strange enough because of the families, pin collectors, “bounders,” and any other American cartoon oddities attracted to Anaheim—but add in aggressive Disney gays? It becomes an even more complicated version of ridiculous. Who needs theme park attractions when you have gay Disney fans to entertain you?