When my partner and I visited Disneyland this month for our first Gay Days, we expected to see LGBT crowds with rainbow Mickey pins and mouse-ear hats in line for all the best rides, with us gays munching on churros like everyone else. So I marched to the front gate wearing a super-cute Mickey shirt, presented my ticket, and excitedly entered the Magic Kingdom. Adorable couples wearing T-shirts in red (to signify attending as part of Gay Days) strolled down Main Street USA, and groups of LGBT friends huddled around Goofy-shaped pumpkins to organize their day. At first, everything seemed normal, but I quickly realized something was off.
Gay Days Anaheim is meant to be a celebration of all things gay. It's a time for LGBT people to represent our community and party with the HMIC (Head Mouse In Charge). Yet, some of us seem to think the event is an extension of their favorite gay bar.
I'll admit, there's a time and place for dressing slutty -- like Halloween. And on Halloween, I've been guilty of lascivious behavior.
During my first year at Arizona State University, I dressed as a -- actually, I don't know what I was supposed to be, but it was sexy. I wore black leather briefs with a zipper front as well as wrist and ankle shackles. Then I covered my body with an obscene amount of gold glitter and wrapped a bullwhip around my torso. I went to BS West, a gay bar in Scottsdale, and was treated like a VIP. But when I followed my friends to Canteen, a straight bar in Tempe, I was told to leave. I. Was. Pissed. And rightfully so! There were all sorts of women prancing around in skanky versions of everyday costumes, but I was rejected because I'm a man. It wasn't like I dressed as a dominator and went to Mickey's Halloween Party to trick-or-treat Main Street.
Halloween is the perfect time to be sexy. Adults can dress like sexy superheroes and go to their favorite bar or club. No problem. That said, dressing like a hustler for the Gay Days Anaheim events at Disneyland is wrong.
The majority of the LGBT people celebrating kept their behavior PG, but a few thirsty fellas must have thought they were at a Pride after-dark event. In line for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, I noticed beaus wearing T-shirts with identifiers like "Top" or "Bottom" scrolled across their backs in the Disney font. I even spotted a few stickers on chests that blatantly read "slut" or "DTF." Did they forget where they were?
This is Disneyland, not the Mulan -- er, Moulin Rouge.
Gay and bi men often complain that the promiscuity stereotype needs to go, and I agree. So maybe, when we're surrounded by children at the Happiest Place on Earth, it might be wise to dial back the sexual revolution just a tad.
When I saw the faces of some of the parents, I felt ashamed and sad that their children were being exposed to so much sex. Disneyland belongs first and foremost to children to use their imaginations, or for adults to revisit their youth. But when the R-rated world slithers into Disneyland, it robs the guests of an unadulterated experience and effectively robs the park of its magic.
Although most of the people attending were behaving in a kid-friendly manner, they ended up Tangled among the embarrassingly desperate few who were looking for a hookup.
Yes, when you're LGBT in the civilian world, many of us might feel like the odd one out. Too many see the "gay" label as suggestive that we're licentious and lustful. Then when we're given the chance to prove that we get the difference between a party and a theme park, some oversexed tramp wastes the opportunity.
Gay Days Anaheim isn't an official day at the park. Disney doesn't sponsor it, and why would they? A few of us make it seem that Disney can't expect LGBT parkgoers to attend a family-focused event without declaring how they like to get laid. On the other coast, Gay Days Orlando will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year And, it's time to show Disney that it can be part of our world without worrying if a guest will arrive wearing pants so tight that kids can see his Mr. Winkie.
When we so carelessly embody stereotypes, we fuel the fire of discrimination and effectively arm antigay groups with weapons to battle equality. As a community, we have to jump at any chance to teach others with our example and to build relationships with LGBT allies.
I love LGBT culture, and I take pride in representing what it means living a fully realized gay life, and still I am appalled by the sexual exhibitionism at Gay Days. There is a time and place to express one's sexual desires. However, a trip to Disneyland isn't one of them. That would go for straight and gay people alike.
LEVI CHAMBERS is the editor in chief of Gay.com. Follow him on Twitter @levichambers.