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.
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.