Archive | lesbian and gay issues RSS feed for this section

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.

Anita Bryant and the Orange Bird

16 Feb
Orange Bird Vinylmation at D Street, WDW Downtown Disney

Orange Bird Vinylmation at D Street, WDW Downtown Disney

The Orange Bird’s been popping up lately in a lot of Walt Disney World merchandise, including the cute little Vinylmation above.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at the Orange Bird without thinking of Anita Bryant, with whom the little cute was originally associated. When I was at Walt Disney World last month, all the Orange Bird stuff was really bugging me. As a Northern California child in the 1970s, I remember boycotting orange juice to protest her stand against lesbian and gay rights. From glbtq.com:

The first glbtq boycott to receive considerable media attention took place in 1977 when Anita Bryant, a pop singer and former Miss Oklahoma then employed as a spokesperson for the Florida Citrus Commission, founded an organization called Save Our Children, which was dedicated not to the welfare of children but to the repeal of a Dade County, Florida ordinance that protected gay men and lesbians from discrimination in employment and housing.

(I love this sign I found on flickr — seems like old times!)

The boycott seems to have had some impact, freeing the Orange Bird from its homophobic associations. From WidenYourWorld:

From that point forward Bryant was irrevocably linked to the controversy and the Florida Citrus Commission opted not to continue their relationship with the singer.  The Orange Bird, having never expressed so much as one sunny thought about gay rights, emerged from this turbulence untarnished but without a vocal proponent of his stature.

I still can’t help but think of Anita Bryant when I see the Orange Bird; somehow I never heard that they’d broken up. But I must admit, he’s cute. And he did dump her, after all. So what the heck, I’ll go ahead and enjoy all that sunny Orange Bird merch that’s been showing up lately.

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!”

A Gay Whirl at Disneyland!

16 Sep

How fabulous is it that this vintage Disneyland ad showed up in Kevin Kidney’s blog the same week that Google news reminded me about Gay Days at Disneyland coming up October 3-5? Sigh…yet another fabulous event I’d love to attend, were it not for my ridiculously full (and admittedly wonderful) work and family life.

Man, the world has changed so much since I came out in 1985…when I went to the Gay Days web site, there was a big (and I’m guessing paid) ad for JoinLAPD.com. I remember years ago marching in Boston’s Lesbian and Gay Pride March (it was not yet a Parade, but still rather political), I remember the intense and solemn support for the Gay Officers Action League…it was still almost unthinkable that cops could come out. (And of course, I know this is still the case in many communities….I know the whole world ain’t LA…)

I’m digging the fact that KayCee Stroh of High School Musical is hosting a youth dance party, for those 20 and younger! My regular readers already know that I think HSM2 is wonderfully, irrepressibly queer, and a fabulous message to gay teens. I also feel the sudden need for a shout out to the Boston Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Youth, which certainly helped this bi chick get through her teen years mostly unscathed, and a bit better educated about the history of our community.

And I’m grooving on some of the merchandise…I’m particularly partial to this Gay Days 2008 pin! I must say I’m a bit disappointed by the t-shirts though! They show one of the shirts being worn by a lady, but clearly they’re all boy-cut shirts…nothing for the femmes among us. What gives? Who knows, maybe I’ll buy one anyway….I’ve got a pair of cutting sheers, I’d probably be able to turn it into something cute for MouseFest, right?

And hey, if anybody’s interested in learning more about the history of Gay Days Anaheim, you might want to check out Rethinking Disney: Private Control, Public Dimensions. It includes an essay, “Curiouser and Curiouser: Gay Days at the Disney Theme Parks,” which turned me onto thinking analytically and critically about the whole Disney Parks experience.

Please Stand Clear of the Doors

13 Sep

From the Disney Geeks’ Daily Figment:

I submit to you the ultimate collectible: a monorail in your own backyard! Dan Pedersen of Fremont, California has constructed the ultimate reminder of a trip to WDW. For under $5,000.00 (not including his years of labor), Ken constructed a complex, usable monorail system in his own backyard. The monorail reaches a height of over eight feet and travels a lengthy 300 feet around his backyard, making several stops along the way.

Head on over to Wired.com for more pictures.

All In This Together: Goths, High School Musical 2, and Growing Up Gay

20 Aug

applescruff’s blog at Progressive U comments on being a Disneyland Cast Member during Bat’s Day at the Fun Park (aka Goth Day):

At first, I didn’t realize that some of my fellow cast members were frightened of these guests. Something about their black makeup and reputation made the Bats crowd intimidating, I suppose. I really didn’t notice. In high school, I had stepped out of my comfort zone and made friends with a few goths, to discover that, more often than not, they were far nicer than the “normal” people. It might have been because I was a misfit myself, but I believe they would have opened up the same way to anyone. As for the Disneyland guests, they came to have fun, same as anyone else. It was annoying to me that I had to initiate contact with “scary people” because…well, they were scary. Even after one of them managed to talk with one of the goths to discover that yes, I was right, they can be very nice, the cast members seemed very nervous about them.

Apparently, despite having it drilled into our heads from the time we are old enough to watch our first episode of Sesame Street, most people do not remember not to “judge a book by it’s cover.” It doesn’t matter that this particular event took place at Disneyland, because I see it all the time. I’ve been a victim of this kind of thing for as long as I can remember. I come from Long Beach, so I’m automatically into drugs, rap, and because of the high school I attended, I’m possibly mentally unstable, part of a gang, and prone to violence. It doesn’t matter that people get these ideas from poorly researched television programs and films, it must be true because that’s what they know. I’m also preppy because I’m intelligent, and therefore I must have good grades (niether of which is entirely true). I am supposedly a hippy, therefore (again) a druggie, because I like to listen to sixties and seventies music. The list goes on and on. Worse, because I have an uncommon and not-very-phoenetic name, people tend to think I’m weird anyway without even learning more than my name.

And while we’re being asked not to judge books by their covers . . . I’m reminded of a post I saw earlier today on the QueerSighted Gay Blog, discussing whether High School Musical 2 is “chock full of gay:”

Perhaps disturbed by the gay subtext [in High School Musical] that was pointed out to them by homosexuals with agendas, Disney attempts to butch up High School Musical 2, removing all traces of queer allegory and metaphor and amping up the heterosexual love triangle. Even so, this sequel (which exists in a parallel universe where the high school experience is so watered down that it might as well be clear) is perhaps even gayer than the first movie.

I must say, it did occur to me that the “I Don’t Dance” scene was as laden with coded references and knowing glances as any Hays Code-era Hollywood blockbuster. Ryan’s the pitcher, eh? Not surprising at all, to those of us who’ve spent a good bit of time wearing the pink hats ourselves. And did anyone else think it was odd that Troy could even pretend to be jealous when Ryan slung his arm, with platonic affection, around Gabriella’s shoulders?

It would seem we’re confronted with a post-modern dilemma: Do we choose to view Ryan’s fabulous, fey mannerisms as thinly-veiled references to his homosexuality, or do we embrace the notion that hetero men should also be free to love show tunes and camp it up? Either way, Ryan saves the day, so does it matter? Not to me. I’m a big fan of both gay rights and gender aberration, so either way I’m all for it.

But more to the point . . . maybe Ryan’s sexual orientation does matter if you’re a gay teen growing up today, watching High School Musical 2 and thinking maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to be who you are. Could it be possible that we really are all in this together?

%d bloggers like this: