Gay Days Orlando: Rainbow Mickey merchandise part of Gay Days experience – OrlandoSentinel.com

Earlier this week, Disney began to sprinkle merchandise throughout its parks with designs including rainbows, symbol of the gay-pride movement. Red tank tops with rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse heads began arriving in shops along Main Street USA a few days ago. They were paired in store displays with other rainbow items usually found in the parks year-round, such as rainbow pins and antenna toppers.

A rainbow mug can be had for $12.95; a rainbow wallet for $14.95. Mickey Mouse Vinylmations in rainbow — $12.95 apiece — were also prominently displayed.

“We offer a wide range of merchandise items that appeal to guests of diverse backgrounds,” said Walt Disney World spokeswoman Bernadette Davis.

Disney has sold such products in years past. This year’s merchandise, which makes no mention of Gay Days, was being snapped up Thursday by people in town for the event.

Chuck Stickler, who visits Disney about every six months from San Antonio, picked up a rainbow Mickey T-shirt, which went with a rainbow Mickey pin he bought years ago.

“I look good in red. Everybody says it,” he quipped, adding later: “I’m happy to see some Gay Days merchandise — well, it’s not really Gay Days merchandise, but rainbow Mickey merchandise.”

Gay Days’ organizers say they expect 170,000 people to participate in some aspect of this year’s event, which started Tuesday evening and runs through Sunday. In addition to visiting Disney World, participants have a range of planned events from which to choose across the tourism district and the rest of the Orlando area, including a Taste of Gay Days restaurant exposition, a charity auction, pool parties and other social gatherings.

Gay Days, which is based in Orlando, expanded its reach to the Western half of the country last fall with the introduction of Gay Days Las Vegas. And that inaugural event created extra buzz for Gay Days Orlando, organizer Chris Alexander-Manley said.

“Actually, we have a lot of people here that were at Gay Days Las Vegas last year. And that was the first time they had attended one of our events,” he said.

Marcus Blake and David Mendelson, who said they regularly attend Gay Days, bought red rainbow T-shirts as they toured Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of Gay Days’ Thursday agenda. It’s not often they see such rainbow merchandise in the giant resort’s stores, they said.

“We kind of think it’s funny that Disney doesn’t sponsor Gay Days, but they cater to us. We were here just a couple weeks ago — and they didn’t have that shirt. But they put it out for this weekend,” said Blake, who’s from Tampa.

Blake has watched Gay Days grow since his first visit in the late 1990s. One positive development, he said, is that the event has lost a lot of its shock value.

“The first couple of years that I came, those who were not participating in the Gay Days festivities were kind of shocked to see the large number of red shirts and what it represented,” he said. “[Now] we have friends who come here with their

via Gay Days Orlando: Rainbow Mickey merchandise part of Gay Days experience – OrlandoSentinel.com.

Related Images:

Disney Talks About Its Gay Days Celebration

The Mouse House’s efforts in establishing and maintaining corporate leadership and an employee base representative of the diverse communities it serves has not gone unnoticed. The Walt Disney Company is currently ranked one of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity by DiversityInc, a media group dedicated to promoting the business value of diversity-management initiatives.

Closer to home, the Human Rights Campaign recently awarded Disney a perfect score of 100 in its most recent Corporate Equality Index. Disney received top marks for its employment benefits for workers and their spouses/partners, as well as offering transgender-inclusive health insurance. Also considered in HRC’s scoring system is a company’s public commitment to, and responsible citizenship towards, its LGBT employees.

Walt Disney World employees, or “cast members” in Disney-speak, are encouraged to participate in the company’s Diversity Resource Groups. The clubs focus on individual populations represented in Disney’s workforce. And while becoming involved can certainly provide an employee benefits, Disney considers these groups more of an employee resource, much like training opportunities and information shared on the company’s intranet, that can be useful both on the job and in life.

Disney’s Diversity Resource Groups include: CastABLE, focused on differently-abled cast members and their allies; HOLA, which promotes Hispanic/Latino heritage; PULSE, dedicated to the development of cast members of African descent; FAMILIES, for parents, caregivers, potential parents and those impacted by parental interests in the workplace; VINTAGE, for older cast members; and PRIDE (People Respecting Individual Diversities in Everyone), which provides resources, learning opportunities and a supportive network to gay, lesbian and ally cast members.

via Disney Talks About Its Gay Days Celebration.

Related Images:

‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.com

ORLANDO, Fla. —

Officials say Orlando is expected to see a boost in the local economy as more tourists and tourist dollars flow in as the annual ‘Gay Days’ event reaches its peak.

The organizers of Gay Days say the six-day event should bring millions of dollars to the local economy.

“We’ve been eating and going out every night,” one visitor told WFTV. “There was a big party at Typhoon Lagoon last night and we all dropped a couple hundred bucks.”

The streets of Disney were packed with tourists celebrating the annual event that started 21 years ago and has continued to grow since. Officials expect 160,000 people to be in town for the event this weekend.

Disney does not officially sanction the event, but participants praised the theme park for being so accommodating.

“I think it’s a great thing for everyone to be able to come out and get together every year, in a place that accepts everyone no matter what they are,” visitor Justin King said.

The president of Gay Days says the event could bring as much as $600,000,000 to the local economy, but some tourism officials believe that number is a bit high.

Gay Days began in 1991 and while the event has faced criticism from some conservative groups, it has reportedly grown every year

via ‘Gay Days’ expected to boost Orlando economy | www.wftv.com.

Related Images: