Pride Community Heads To Florida For Gay Days Celebration, Taking A Stand Against States Anti-LGBTQ+ Laws

The LGBTQ+ community isn’t letting Florida’s laws stop them from showing their pride during Pride Month.

Thousands of LGBTQ+ people are heading to the Sunshine State for the Gay Days festival starting June 2, the Associated Press reports. Hosted at “the happiest place on Earth,” Walt Disney World, the annual celebration includes theme park rides, all-night parties, and joyful networking.

The turnout is expected to be large, and the festival organizers hope it will send a statement to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida lawmakers: that members of the community won’t be turned away.

Gay Days Inc. CEO Joseph Clark said if the anticipated 150,000-plus people join in for the fun, their point has been made. “Right now is not the time to run. It’s not the time to go away,” Clark said. “It’s time to show we are here, we are queer, and we aren’t going anywhere.”

Started in 1991, Gay Days is a bonus for the city of Orlando, which typically celebrates Pride in October. The highlight of the weekend is traditionally a Saturday meetup of LGBTQ+ visitors at Magic Kingdom. Attendees wear red shirts to stand out as they meet for the afternoon parade in front of Cinderella Castle.

Standing with its gay customers, the Disney park is currently involved a legal battle with DeSantis as he sought to take over Disney’s governing district in response to the park publicly opposing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that includes the exclusion of classroom instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity for all grades.

Many Pride groups in Florida have already canceled their celebrations as they are concerned about the potential blowback, according to The Daily Beast. Other activists, like Danielle Olivani, president and CEO of Lake County Pride, say that while being gay in parts of Florida is very hard, she isn’t going to back down.

“It’s not exactly being welcomed by the community where we’re having it,” said Olivani, adding that she’d already received a cease-and-desist letter. “We’re gonna have this Pride because we’re fully within our rights to do so. And you know, we’re just gonna deal with things as they go. Yet I’m hopeful at the same time.”