Christian Group Blasts 'Orgy of Depravity'
at Disney's Gay Days

by Nathan C. Masters

       A Christian group just launched a campaign against the annual Gay Days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., releasing a videotape documenting what it calls an "orgy of depravity." The video depicts homosexuals kissing and fondling each other and engaging in public nudity, simulated sex acts and alleged drug use at Disney theme parks.

Every June since 1991, homosexuals numbering up to 100,000 have descended upon Walt Disney World for the Gay Days event, which is not sponsored by the Walt Disney Company but is organized with the entertainment giant's tacit approval, according to the Christian Action Network (CAN).

"I want to point out that this event is not called 'Gay Days in Orlando,' it's called 'Gay Days at Walt Disney World,'" CAN President Martin Mawyer said. "And as such, we believe Disney is responsible for all the activity that takes place under the umbrella of this event, whether it takes place on Disney property or off Disney property. But as you can see, there is plenty of offensive homosexual activity taking place within the Disney theme parks that would shock most parents and their small children."

The videotape released by the CAN Tuesday includes video shot by Mawyer and other CAN employees at the Disney parks two months ago, as well as footage posted on the website for the event, It shows multiple acts of alleged public lewdness and contains extensive and explicit nudity. While these activities were being taped, the Disney theme parks remained open to the general public, including children, Mawyer said.

"It's absolutely impossible to describe the depth of depravity we saw," said Mawyer. "Not only did we see men kissing men, but these shirtless homosexuals were twisting the nipples of each other and fondling the butts and groins of their 'lovers.' And all this occurred right out in the open at a Disney theme park."

The CAN plans to tour 24 cities in 12 southeastern states, showing the video to local media, church leaders and public officials. The organization conducted a similar tour in 1997 to display graphic art funded by the National Endowment of the Arts.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World responded by pointing out that Gay Days is an unofficial event.

"Disney does not sponsor Gay Days, it's simply a time of year when people come to Central Florida," said Rena Callahan, spokeswoman for the Disney corporation.

Mawyer disagreed, charging that Disney's refusal to remove its name from the event constitutes an implicit endorsement.

"Their denial rings hollow," he said. "Let's be honest. Disney would never allow an event to be called 'KKK Days at Walt Disney World'...Disney would use every legal muscle within their power to have their name removed from that event."

The CAN also issued a list of five demands on Walt Disney World: (1) prevent Gay Days organizers from using the Disney name; (2) post signs warning parents of the event; (3) arrest any Gay Days participant who engages in unlawful acts of lewdness; (4) warn parents before they make reservations at Disney-owned hotels; and (5) reimburse expenses for guests who are offended by Gay Days.

Callahan rejected the group's demands and stressed the company's policy of non-discrimination.

"We welcome everyone to our theme parks every day," said Callahan. "There are certain high-level ideas that we follow, the non-discrimination policy being the most significant."

Callahan also believes notifying families of the Gay Days event would be inappropriate.

"That falls under our policy of non-discrimination," Callahan explained. "Posting a sign about different groups of people who are visiting our parks could be perceived as discrimination, and we're not going to indulge in that kind of practice."

Rev. Lou Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, faulted Callahan's logic with regard to discrimination. Banning the homosexual event would not amount to discrimination, Sheldon said, because sexual preference is not comparable to race or sex.

"This isn't an issue of discrimination; it's an issue of discernment. Homosexuality definitely is a social disorder. It is not genetic, it is acquired," Sheldon said. "So you need to be discerning about what is appropriate for children and what is morally right and what is morally wrong, and so I would agree that you'd need to have a warning."

According to Callahan and the Walt Disney World website, all theme park guests are required to wear shirts and shoes at all times. But the video depicted numerous shirtless and nude men embracing each other and engaging in simulated sex acts in public areas.

"Why they have one policy for one part of the year and another policy for Gay Days is quite obvious: Disney is making upwards of $15 million per year on this event," Mawyer said.

Callahan insisted that the park's dress code is enforced every day of the year, including during Gay Days.

"If we see someone who's dressed inappropriately or is not wearing a shirt or shoes, we would certainly approach them on that," she said, noting that she has not seen the CAN's video.

Mawyer also claimed that while he was recording at the Pleasure Island theme park, he was approached by Disney security and told to stop videotaping. He refused, and the Disney employees called the Orange County (Florida) Sheriff's office to have him arrested.

The video also featured an interview with a Florida family whose opinion of Disney was changed by a Gay Days-related incident. While riding in the family vehicle on Interstate 4 in central Florida, Michelle Dykstra and her 12 year-old brother Jordan saw a pornographic movie playing on the television screens of a Disney Cruise Line bus driving alongside the Dykstra vehicle.

According to Michelle Dykstra, her brother now thinks "Disney is dirty," and the family is upset that Disney has not yet apologized for the incident.

Sheldon believes the clean-cut, conservative image that company founder Walt Disney fostered at his theme parks has been replaced with a new image.

"The name Disney means something different today than it did 20 years ago," Sheldon explained. "As long as Walt Disney owned the company and his family, they had a policy at Disneyland that this didn't happen. But when [Disney Chairman Michael] Eisner came in and Disneyland was sold to a different group, they changed the moral standard."

Disney once enforced strict policies against homosexual behavior, such as same-sex dancing, in its theme parks. The company was forced to change its policy in 1984, when an Orange County (California) Superior Court judge found that Disney had wrongfully discriminated against two homosexual men who were ejected from the company's Disneyland theme park in Anaheim for dancing together.


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