During the last two decades, Orlando Gay Days (June 1-7, 2010) has swelled into a weeklong, citywide celebration of love, life, sex, and everything G-A-Y. The right-wing protests have faded, and with over 150,000 attendees, Gay Days offers events and parties catering to all crowds: muscle boys, bears, butch lesbians, fem lesbians, families, pre-ops, post-ops, sports fanatics, teens. It’s the most anticipated annual event in Florida and a mind-boggling explosion of gay subcultures.The Gay Days crowd divides time between socializing at pool parties, attending the Gay Days Expo, visiting the theme parks, seeing comedy shows, and checking out local Orlando nightlife venues. The official "gay" theme park lineup begins on Thursday (June 3) with Animal Kingdom, followed by Friday at Disney Hollywood Studios, Saturday at Magic Kingdom, and Epcot Center on Sunday; a multi-day pass is available.
Saturday at the Magic Kingdom marks the actual “Gay Day”: everyone wears red to symbolize pride, and the park fills to capacity early in the day. This is probably the one day of the year you won’t rush to use a Fast Pass, as standing in line is almost as fun as going on the rides. The crowd is warm and welcoming, strong and united. Strangers approach you; new friends are made. It’s a beautiful sight to witness children from loving gay homes in a day-long safe haven.
Although Gay Days is the overarching event, three other spin-off festivals coincide: Girls at Gay Days, Girls in Wonderland, and Wonderland Orlando. That last festival is full of debaucherous parties that cater to scene queens, muscle boys, circuit partiers, fashionistas, and anyone looking to have great time. For a first-timer, it undoubtedly results in sensory overload — a plethora of hot men, scantily clad, hot and bothered, ready to party is the gay version of every straight man’s Miller Lite big-breasted fantasy. The full schedule of sultry pool parties and late-night clubbing events can be found here.
Around town, local venues get in on the action and host outrageous parties during Gay Days. The Parliament House, for example, continues its popular concert series with Deborah Gibson on Friday night (June 4) and Taylor Dayne on Saturday (June 5). And on the comedy front, Vickie Shaw, Michele Balan, Joan Rivers, and Alec Mapa are all performing this year. Check the official calendar for details and tickets.
If you need a place to sleep but want to avoid the chaos of the host hotel, you should consider staying at another International Drive hotel such as The Peabody Orlando or the Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive.
--Paul Rubio of amazinggaytravel.com
[Photo Credit: Official Manhunt.net/Flickr]