In these days when people routinely lie about their age, Gay Days Anaheim is proud to say it’s turning21. OMG….21 and now they serve alcohol!
Back in 1997, a group of gay people in Southern California tried to organize a day when our community could be out and proud at Disneyland – similar to the event that had been happening at the sister park in Orlando since 1991. From those little seeds grew an event that has attracted thousands of people from all over the world. That single day event has become a full weekend in Anaheim that will take place this year on October 5 to October 7, which is Columbus Day weekend (we gays love a long weekend).
While it is not an official Disney event (the company doesn’t sponsor specific gatherings in its parks), the shear volume of members of the LGBT community (including our allies) has transformed this weekend from a grassroots meeting to a major happening.
Last year’s festivities attracted over 30,000!
“What I love most about being at Disneyland during Gay Days is how different the parks feel,” says producer Eddie Shapiro. “On any other day, you stay pretty focused on the people in your group. The energy is inward. On Gay Days, it’s the opposite– everyone is very much focused on who else is there, everyone smiles at everyone else. It’s like being at a really big party. And that’s why wearing red is important– so everyone knows, even from 100 feet away, who is there for Gay Days!”
And in case somehow didn’t pack a red shirt, don’t panic — Gay Days Anaheim has a different collectible red T-shirts each year.
“This year’s shirt is inspired by Toontown, so look for Jessica and Roger Rabbit to make an appearance. The shirts and the official pin are available in our Welcome Center, just off the lobby of Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. There will also be a lot of free giveaways in there, so it’s often people’s first stop when the get to the resort.”
As to the events we can only list a few highlights here. Friday night is the Wonderland dance party with popular Tiger Heat DJ Ray Rhodes and Detox from “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars” at the Rumba Room Live at Anaheim Garden Walk.
After spending Saturday in Disneyland itself, the Kingdom dance party takes place once the sun goes down at Highway 39 with DJ Roland Belmares. In addition to more RuPaul girls (Mayhem Miller, Delta Work and Mariah Balenciaga), I suspect most people will be interested in a special performance by heartthrob Garrett Clayton.
Shapiro says, “Garrett is a dream, and I don’t just mean to look at. He’s designing special costumes for this and having new arrangements made. It’s his first live show since he came out and I think he feels liberated!”
Park devotees can enjoy Disney’s California Adventure on Sunday. But if you’d like something a bit more relaxing and refreshing, hit the official Gay Days Anaheim pool party, PLUNGE! at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel.
Other events throughout include the first ever Gay Days Anaheim free film screening under the stars. Since it’s October, why wouldn’t they show “Hocus Pocus”? Disney and gay favorite Bette Midler camps it up with Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker in this perennial Halloween favorite on Friday night on the lawn of the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. Saturday you can check out “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” Steven Fales solo show prior to its off-Broadway run this fall (and he is certainly worth checking out).
For more information, tickets, and a full list of events and times, check out their website at GayDaysAnaheim.com. And,as they say,see you on the Matterhorn.