The happiest -- and gayest -- place on earth
Story and Photo by Ed Salvato; Ed and Robb in front of Disney's iconic castle
Disneyland is the passive (no 'official' endorsement) host of the 11th annual Gay Days event in Anaheim, the pulsing heart of Orange County. The O.C., in case you haven't been watching TV the last several years, has served as the backdrop to several wildly popular television shows. It's an attraction-rich, though somewhat under-appreciated (and more conservative leaning) county than the two that sandwich it: San Diego County to the south and Los Angeles County to the north.
Artsy Laguna Beach, tony Newport Beach, and surfer-central Huntington Beach are all fellow OC communities, but it's Anaheim's Disneyland Resort with Disneyland Park, Disney's California Adventure Park and Downtown Disney for which the area is best known.
Before heading to Gay Days, my partner and I checked into the incredibly close (a 15-minute walk) and hip Hotel Ménage, grabbed a bite at their cool, contemporary Asian-oriented k'ya restaurant, and enjoyed a quick tour of the area, including Laguna Beach, a quintessential California coastal community with its quaint beach-side homes, little sandy inlets, and beach volleyball courts prominently featured where their main street meets the strand. Across from the small but well-curated Laguna Art Museum we had breakfast at Madison Square & Garden Café, dining amidst outdoor garden art, Buddhas, gurgling fountains and plants.
Thus fueled, we headed on over to the festivities at Disneyland. It's a 'mix in' so the gay girls and boys mingled alongside their heterosexual counterparts. Wearing red t-shirts (or red sneakers, rainbow pins, pink Mickey hats and a wide variety of other sartorial signifiers), the homos were readily identified. It was a crowded day at the park, but I have to say there was a lot of red everywhere you looked. Male and female couples with red-clad tykes in strollers; groups of men; gaggles of gay gals; squadrons of mixed-age, mixed gender young'uns: Just about everyone was represented. Two young, pretty dykes were wearing t-shirts declaring themselves "Lesbian Before Lohan." Very SoCal.
For the most part the other resort goers seemed not really to notice or care about the presence of so much red-coated fruit in their midst. There were some uncomfortable or perhaps curious or surprised looks and even a little animosity that I detected in the form of 'vote yes on prop. 8' buttons, indicating support for the anti-gay marriage initiative on the ballot on Nov. 4 here in California. All in all though just a big happy red-hued day enjoyed by all.
I had never visited this park and only visited one other Disney resort: Disney World, Orlando when I was a young teenager. While some of the rides seemed dated, with a sort of charming retro-futuristic look, some of the rides, most notably Nemo's Submarine, were very cool and contemporary feeling.