Disney Gay Days Infiltrated
By Mike Schneider
Associated Press Writer
Friday, June 1, 2001; 4:03 p.m. EDT LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Martin Mawyer and Phillip Vaught tried to blend in with the gay men as they leaned against a railing above the dance floor at a Downtown Disney nightclub.
They weren't here to celebrate the opening of Gay Days and neither is gay. The self-described "Christian guerillas" instead aimed hidden video cameras at the sea of shirtless men dancing on the packed, revolving floor as colored lights twirled above.
Their mission was to record any homoerotic displays to show at Disney's next shareholders' meeting. They believe Disney shouldn't be condoning such behavior.
"You don't spend all year long infiltrating the minds of Americans around the country with commercials of little kids coming down to Walt Disney World to enjoy the rides and not warn them this is not what they're going to see during Gay Days," said Mawyer, president of the Christian Action Network, a Forest, Va., group which claims 230,000 members and a $1.5 million budget.
Walt Disney World doesn't sponsor Gay Days, an annual gathering of gays and lesbians at Orlando's theme parks and nightclubs, although many of its events are held on Disney property.
Gay Days founder Doug Swallow said he was perplexed at why Mawyer and Vaught would bother documenting Gay Days, a weekend dedicated to theme park rides and harmless fun.
"I really just want to know why they're so intent on doing this that they would go to extremes to ruin someone else's vacation," he said.
Swallow started Gay Days 11 years ago as a small, informal gathering at the Magic Kingdom. Gay Days now attracts more than 100,000 gays and lesbians to Orlando during the first weekend in June.
Mawyer and Vaught didn't capture anything incriminating at the dance club Thursday night. During their first visit in 1999, they videotaped two male nightclub dancers simulating sex acts and made the footage public, which they believe led to tamer performances the following year.
Mawyer wants Disney officials to warn guests about the event, reimburse any unhappy guests and prohibit employees from participating in any homoerotic performances.
Disney spokesman Rena Callahan said if guests are uncomfortable during Gay Days, Disney officials will do everything possible to make them feel comfortable.
"It's not a Disney-sponsored event and our parks are open to everyone every day," Callahan said.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press