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.

8 Responses to “Disneyland Security Accused of Anti-Gay Bias”

  1. Tom September 27, 2007 at 5:29 pm #

    I’ve worked at Disneyland in the past and am openly gay. I don’t think that homophobia (at least in the day operations cast) is really a widespread problem. Disney is all about respecting, appreciating and valuing everyone.

  2. Kitty-chan September 27, 2007 at 7:44 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by and posting, Tom!

    I don’t believe it’s a widespread problem either, and I’m glad to hear it sounds like your experience would support that. I’m bisexual and fairly easily perceived as ‘different’ or ‘queer,’ and I’ve never had interaction with any Disney Cast Member that would make me feel unwelcome for this.

    If there was in fact any issue of homophobia underlying the incident at Disneyland, I do trust that Disney management will iron things out with the relevant Cast Members.

  3. Nyx September 28, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    I read the article and had to go “I’m sorry, WHAT!?”

    As I’ve stated in a couple of comments before, I’m a current Cast Member in Anaheim, and unless the entire Resort is really good at hiding it from me, I’ve never seen openly hostility toward any gay person or couple while on property. I’d go to the Parks with my brother; he and his boyfriend would hang off each other in such a way that it even made me uncomfortable, and we’d never had an issue from any of the Guests or Cast.

    Would we really take this man’s claim as fact? He thinks a Cast Member reported him as threatening with a gun because he and his partner were seen holding hands? I’m sorry, but the story stinks of finger-pointing. I’m not saying he had a gun (obviously he didn’t!), but really…

    Sorry, but this is actually a pet peeve of mine. “It’s because I’m [insert “I’m (‘opressed’) sub-culture here]!!!” claims are something that I’ve had an issue with my whole life that I couldn’t battle back on.

    Okay, I’m off my soapbox now 😀 Sorry about that. On another note, I think I remember seeing the cop cars that Saturday drive by my location. Didn’t realize they were heading toward the Resort O.o

  4. Kitty-chan September 28, 2007 at 10:59 am #

    I don’t know enough about the details of this specific case to know whether Disney Security mishandled a situation. Nothing has appeared yet in any reliable news source, and I doubt we’ll hear more anytime soon.

    But what I do know, I’ll repeat . . . people who are openly queer do in fact face discrimination and bias, both overt and covert. It is often difficult for people to understand if they haven’t experienced it. But it is nonetheless real, and affects the way we experience the world. Some of us grow thicker skins, some become defensive and reactive, but none of us are untouched by it.

  5. Kitty-chan September 28, 2007 at 2:59 pm #

    There’s now a tiny bit more information available on Mickey News, courtesy of Gay.com

  6. Nyx September 28, 2007 at 5:09 pm #

    . . . people who are openly queer do in fact face discrimination and bias, both overt and covert. It is often difficult for people to understand if they haven’t experienced it. But it is nonetheless real, and affects the way we experience the world. Some of us grow thicker skins, some become defensive and reactive, but none of us are untouched by it.”

    I do know my phrasing can be brash and I appologize in advance for it. I’m not trying to play down the fears and feelings of others. And I do know and understand the bias, far too well. Just for starters, I’m from a Jewish family…so, yes, I do know and understand (as my roommate so wonderfully puts our holidays “YAY! They didn’t kill us! Time to celebrate with a feast and drink!!”). And let’s not get started on the fact that I’m an openly practicing Pagan 😉

    My own personal “issues” aside, what I was trying to sayin my previous comment (and I hope I’m not coming off as defensive, because sometimes I feel like I am when I try to clarify LoL Hopefully just getting some lively discussion going!) was that too often the defense against these bias people are to point the finger and attack back, either with accusations or other means, which, in my opinion, is no better.

  7. Michael October 21, 2007 at 4:54 am #

    What is that???

  8. Mike Jenner March 15, 2008 at 12:41 am #

    I think this is an extremely isolated case that happened. I worked for Disney for years and never once came across homophobia. Please I’d say 1/2 the guys working there are gay … and the parade queens, sista’ please!

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