Every year, the Florida Family Association protests “Gay Days” at Walt Disney World, primarily by flying a banner around the park with the message, “WARNING: GAY DAY @ DISNEY.” Apparently, the group — which largely consists of the anti-LGBT advocacy of one man, David Caton — spends over $12,000 on this yearly expense.
This year, Converge Orlando, the region’s LGBT visitor’s bureau, decided to reach out to FFA and thank them for this weekend’s protests. Here’s a letter sent from Mikael Audebert, executive director of Converge, outlining the significant economic impact of Gay Days:
On behalf of our members, our community and our many friends, I want to personally thank you for helping us make 2013 Gay Days even more successful and well-attended than ever. It seems you once again helped draw attention to an Orlando event that brings tens of millions of dollars to the local economy. It also brings thousands of families together who come to celebrate equality and love. Instead of scaring people away, it appears your efforts have encouraged people to come and offer support. Publicity and media coverage of any kind is good for gay and lesbian travel marketing. So, THANK YOU for the $16,000 contribution in publicity! [...]
The plane fly-overs really have no purpose other than promoting the Gay Days events. The parks already give their guests a courtesy notice about our tens of thousands of wonderful LGBT individuals and their allies being in town. So visitors are already ‘warned of gays.” Again this year, the same parks racked up another record level of attendance on the first weekend of June. Our experience with non-LGBT visitors last weekend was warm and gracious. The families we spoke to were happy to have gays and lesbians celebrate in the same manner every other group does in the parks.
We are counting on you to rent more planes and stir up more controversy about any week-long gay and lesbian event in Orlando. Please continue to rally your troops and make incendiary statements. Urge unequal treatment for some citizens and flaunt your misguided values. To make your job easier in the future, we are adding three new large LGBT events starting next year. We thought you would appreciate the opportunity to continue your efforts year round.
Next year, why don’t you just write a check directly to Converge Orlando to further promote LGBT tourism to our region? While I doubt you will take me up on this suggestion, I nonetheless look forward to working with you again next year in supporting another successful Gay Days.
In addition to protesting Disney’s Gay Days, FFA regularly protests companies who advertise on television shows that include LGBT characters and storylines. This often has a similar effect of increasing national awareness about the shows without negatively impacting the advertisers.