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Gorgeous Cakes and Marriage Equality: 2011 Disney Wedding Awards

13 Feb

Sometimes a girl needs a little boost on a Monday morning. And I must say I got choked up a bit looking at the nominees for the 2011 Disney Wedding Awards on the Disney Wedding Blog, and seeing a number of same-sex couples among the honorees. It doesn’t feel all that long ago that we were fighting for same-sex couples to have equal access to Disney Fairy Tale Weddings. I especially loved the series of engagement pictures for Joaquin and Ruben (the full set of photos is separate from the voting page).

And of course, I’m thrilled that my BFF’s nominated as well! Lisa and Trace are in the running for Best Wedding Cake, for their Haunted Mansion-themed grooms’ cake.

Anti-gay Banners Flown Over Gay Days at Disney World

6 Jun

From WESH.com:

The Florida Family Association is boycotting [Gay Days at Walt Disney World, June 4-5]. The group is spending $7,000 to fly banners for two days near Disney warning unsuspecting families, “They’re about to be thrust into a crowd of thousands reveling in gay pride.”

Hmm. Is there someone we could convince to fly banners warning us when crowd levels are higher than anticipated, or Space Mountain is down, or Kilimanjaro Safaris is closing early, or other such factors? Clearly any of these interfere with park touring far more than a bunch of people hanging out in red shirts, especially since (rumor has it) the late-night partying keeps crowd levels fairly low at rope drop.

But on a more serious note: If you haven’t been to Gay Days and wonder what they’re really like, try listening to a few people who have. (I haven’t been yet myself, and receiving happy photos from a friend over the weekend strengthened my resolve to get there one of these years!)

Gay Characters? Disney Channel Needs a Lesson from Buster Baxter

15 Feb

AfterElton has a fascinating interview with Disney Channel President Gary Marsh, on the topic of gay characters on Disney Channel shows. The topic is introduced by this quote from Marsh, from 2008:

“Well, just to speak sort of in the 30,000-foot level first, we don’t deal with sexuality on the Disney Channel in general. That’s just sort of not where our audience’s head’s at. They’re really a pre-sexual audience, for the most part, and so sexuality is not how we look to tell any kind of stories.”

I’ll echo AfterElton’s sentiment: It’s not meaningful to talk this way about same-sex couples. For example: How is it not sexual for a kid to know he has parents of opposite sexes, but somehow sexual for him to know that some other kid has parents of the same sex? And hey, why isn’t it sexual when Zack and Cody are ogling all those girls?

The article goes on to make it clear that Marsh is okay with characters on the Disney Channel being widely interpreted as gay, but that those characters won’t ever be coming out in any way.

We leave it up to our audience to interpret who these characters are and how they relate to them. It’s great that this child has interpreted [Shake It Up! character] Gunther [as gay] and that it speaks to him in a way that makes sense for his life. And that’s what we’re trying to do — create a diverse cross section of characters on television that kids can have different access points and entry points to connect with.

It’s like the Hays Production Code all over again: You can have gay characters, they just can’t be identified openly. (Of course, Disney’s moved quite a bit forward from Hays, in that gay characters don’t have to die horribly at the end of the story, or suffer in silence — they can go on to Julliard instead.)

I can’t imagine the Disney Channel budging on this issue anytime soon, due to what I’m sure they perceive as market pressure. So, is it better to have coded gay characters like Ryan Evans, who’s widely interpreted as gay but may convey the message that it’s not okay to be out? Or is it better to only have clearly heteronormative characters on kids shows? I’m not satisfied with either option.

When my home state began recognizing same-sex marriage, many people felt that the world would fall apart somehow. But as the years have rolled by, it seems like less and less of a big deal (except, of course, for those whose marriages are now recognized, for whom it is enormously important). If mainstream television networks like the Disney Channel had an openly gay character now and then, perhaps the social order wouldn’t really be rocked for all that long? After all, glee‘s been pretty darn successful (in some part because of a fabulous openly gay character), and many parents already shun Disney Channel for being a bad influence on their kids, and ban it from the living room (just look at these google search results).

Yeah, an openly gay character on the Disney Channel would probably make executives and stockholders a little nervous. But I can’t help but wonder if people were nervous when my grandfather was lobbying for Bill Cosby to be cast in a leading role in I Spy. Sometimes change makes you nervous. Too bad.

And hey, if you’re looking for an example of an excellent (and thoroughly non-sexual) portrayal of lesbians in a children’s television show, this clip from Postcards from Buster is for you:

“Boy, that’s a lot of Moms!”

Jentasmic!: A Fairy Tale Wedding

24 Apr

There are so many reasons for me to smile at Walt Disney World! But in the last couple years, there’s been one in particular that chokes me up every time I take the monorail past the Grand Floridian, as chronicled in this week’s Jentasmic! column at StudiosCentral:

… in years past, I’d feel bittersweet when we’d glide past the wedding chapel at the Grand Floridian, knowing that it was reserved only for opposite-sex couples. Same-sex couples could purchase some types of Fairy Tale Wedding plans, but not those most exposed to the public eye, such as the glass carriage ride through Disney property. These highly-prized opportunities were only available to those with valid wedding licenses, which the state of Florida reserves only for opposite-sex couples.

But for the last couple years now, when the announcer reminds me that “Couples may exchange vows in a fairy tale setting complete with a picturesque backdrop of Cinderella Castle,” I can smile wholeheartedly, knowing that Disney opened up all Fairy Tale Wedding packages to all couples in April of 2007, shortly after the gay news and commentary site AfterElton.com published an article critical of their previous policies. Does this change affect the experience that most Guests have when they visit Walt Disney World? I think not. I’d wager that the average Guest knows nothing of the controversy, much less its resolution. I suspect that very few same-sex marriages have been performed at the Grand Floridian wedding chapel, if the ratio of same-sex/opposite-sex weddings is anything like that of Massachusetts. (Bottom line is, after working through the initial backlog of same-sex couples who’d waited years or decades for marriage rights, there hasn’t been the flood of same-sex marriages that some had expected.) But it makes a big difference to this Guest, and I’m sure it matters to other queer people too, as well as our allies.

We still have a long way to go….same-sex marriage is legal in only 8% of US states. But that’s 8% more than just a few years ago, and sometimes when I see how far we’ve come I can’t help but well up.

I watched the movie Milk recently, and it really took me back to my childhood growing up outside San Francisco, and to my late teens coming out as queer in a fabulous group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth. I always find myself going back to Harvey Milk’s (perhaps apocryphal) kid from Altoona, Pennsylvania.

(text available here)

When I watched Sean Penn and Dustin Lance Black accept their Academy Awards for their work on Milk, I thought of that kid in Altoona, and hoped she or he was watching, and heard that there are lots of Us’s, that there’s hope. Those acceptance speeches reached into far more living rooms than most newspapers do, nowadays.

And if it can give a kid hope to know that someone like her can be elected to public office, just think of how it feels to some isolated kid, or even a scared and closeted grownup, to know that someday they too could waltz their prince or princess through the Grand Floridian, and marry in the shadow of Cinderella’s Castle.

It’s just gotta make a difference.

Stop Gay Marriage? Heck No!

27 Oct

Do I even have to tell you that I’m in favor of same-sex couples’ right to civil marriage? Well, I’m sure I don’t, especially if you’ve read my posts on the first same-sex wedding at Disneyland, or my reaction to the California Supreme Judicial Court decision which made it possible. Or if, oh, you just happened to notice that I’m pretty darn passionate about queer politics and culture.

But just the same, I’m gonna tell you again…and encourage my California readers to vote no on Proposition 8. I know in a lot of cases I’m preaching to the choir here. But I also want to assure those of you who might be on the fence that in fact we’ve had same-sex civil marriage here in Massachusetts for a few years now, and not only have opposite-sex marriages still managed to thrive, but even some of the folks who were nervous about the change have (mostly) gotten pretty chill about it.

I have seen many, many marriages I thought should be stopped…but never because of gender! When you wish upon a star, it shouldn’t matter who you are.

Jentasmic! Says Disney is So Gay!

19 Oct

Following up on the Hilary Duff “That’s So Gay” public service announcement, this week’s Jentasmic! does a little reclaiming of the phrase.

…I ask myself, are there some things about Disney that are just so fabulously gay? And yes indeed, there are! Not necessarily that the artist’s intent was gay…just that the finished product is pretty darn fabulous, or homo-erotic, or overwhelmingly reminiscent of 1970s in the Castro.

Hilary Duff “That’s So Gay” PSA

9 Oct

(Hat tip: Feministing.)

Kudos to Hilary Duff!

I hope this gets a lot of airplay when tweens are watching. I know plenty of kids who use that phrase without thinking about what it means…even in the presence of their friends whose families are headed by same-sex couples. While there’s still plenty of genuine homophobia out there, there’s also a lot of ignorance.

Let’s not forget the anniversary of Matthew Shepherd‘s death is coming up. The Gay/Straight Alliance at my son’s school is holding a candlelight memorial tonight. It was a bittersweet moment when I read that in the daily announcements email; bitter that he died that way, sweet that teenagers today have GSAs and can come together with their communities to remember him, and remind us all that we’re not in some idealistic post-homophobia world.

Who Will Have First Same-Sex Civil Marriage at Disneyland?

16 May

I was sitting in an airport lounge yesterday afternoon when I saw the news that California’s Supreme Judicial Court had ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry, under the state’s Constitution. I know there are still some hurdles, I know that there are plenty of groups working to stop this and that the Pope disapproves . . . I am sometimes tired and bitter and worried that there will be backlash, but all the same I choked up with tears to see the couples rejoicing, to read about a woman calling her partner of 19 years to finally propose marriage, to see my friend and musical collaborator Allison on TV talking about the California ruling with her legally-wed, Massachusetts wife.

I was in the middle of the airport, surrounded by people who couldn’t understand the depths of my joy. It felt as if a national holiday had suddenly been declared, and nobody but me knew about it. Thank goodness for the twitterverse and my crackberry . . . I could text and twitter with likeminded friends. One of my buddies had a great question for me on twitter: Will Disney do something special for the first same-sex couple to wed there? And I have to say, while I doubt Disney would go out on the political limb to do anything officially special, I’ve just gotta believe that the first time a same-sex couple is legally wed on Disney property, there’s gonna be Cast Members there who really get that this is a historic moment, and I’m sure plenty of them will go out of their way to find just a little bit of extra pixie dust. After all, same-sex couples can use the wedding facilities at Disney World (and maybe the non-US parks too?) . . . but can’t be legally wed in that state.

Twenty nine days from now (assuming same-sex marriage foes don’t find a way to stop it), same-sex marriages will begin in California. And honey, we all know that this isn’t enough time to plan a wedding! But hey, if anybody out there hears when the first same-sex couple has arranged for a Disneyland wedding, please please please drop me a note. I wish I could be there to throw rice, but at the very least I can celebrate with them in my heart.

Disneyland Security Accused of Anti-Gay Bias

26 Sep

From The Advocate:

The Walt Disney Co. is issuing a formal apology to a San Diego man for an incident at Disneyland that the company claims was a misunderstanding but which, the man asserts, was antigay bias.

Wil Kenney claims he was targeted and harassed by Disneyland security — as well as roughed up by Anaheim, Calif., police — because a Disney staff member overreacted to Kinney’s holding another man’s hand.

According to Kenney, he and his partner — along with two other same-sex couples and their children — were walking through the theme park’s Downtown Disney area on Saturday when Disney security detained them. Security claimed Kenney had threatened someone with a gun, which Kenney denied. Anaheim officers were called to the scene and, according to Kenney, forced him face-first into a wall and then frisked, searched, and interrogated him in front of hundreds of Disney guests. According to Kenney, officers left the scene after finding no weapons on anyone in his party. Kenney says he may have been targeted by police because a Disney employee grew nervous seeing Kenney holding hands with his partner, which he believes then led to the chain reaction of events.

You know, one of the things about being a member of a traditionally marginalized group is that when you’re treated badly, you always have to wonder whether your membership in that group played a part in causing the bad treatment. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong . . . but you always have to wonder. It can wear a girl’s spirit down.

And sometimes the people who are treating you badly don’t even realize the subconscious effects that their own bias and prejudice might be having on their actions. People are, well, human. Bias and prejudice are pretty heavily interwoven into the cultural influences that surround us. We may have privileges we’re not even aware of, which prevent us from seeing the bias that others are living with; I’ve found the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” an invaluable resource, with lessons that transcend race.

I’ll be interested to see what additional details emerge from this case. I feel especially badly for the kids who had to witness this incident.

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