Stonewall riots remembered in Pride events across nation
Disney Gav Day
LAKE BUENA VISTA. Fla. — A group
of Operation Rescue evangelists wearing red, white and blue "Pro-Life"
shirts cut a path through a sea of red-
shirted gays and lesbians on June 6
inside Disney World's Magic Kingdom
for Gay Day.
They found a gay couple from
Evangelists David Lackey of
Birmingham. Ala., and Bill Shanks of
New Orleans opened the conversation
with David Smith and Robert Pitman
by asking where they were from.
The gay couple was more than a
match for the evangelists. Smith, a
33-year-old Methodist seminary graduate, and Pitman, who comes from a
fundamentalist Christian family,
knew the Bible backward and forward.
There are definitely different interpretations of the verses that supposedly condemn homosexuality," Smith
As Disney security workers and a
handful of reporters looked on, the
evangelists and the gay couple had a
half-hour conversation that was cordial, polite and diplomatic.
"The statistics show that your
lifestyle is much shorter than other
people's." Lackey said. "It's not a
lifestyle. It's a death-style."
"My lifestyle is exactly like yours,"
Smith countered. "1 wake up. I pick up
my paper, I say "hi" lo my neighbor, I
feed the dogs, I go to work ... The only
thing different is that 1 share a bed
with a man, and I love a man."
But Disney officials, who neither
Gay Day: Operation Rescue activists, from left, Aron Noil, arms outstretched, and
Melissa Cantley, at right, pray at the entrance to Walt Disney World in Lake Buena
Vista, Fla., on June 6, which was "Gay Day" at the park. Operation Rescue was on hand
to show it's disapproval of the gay lifestyle. —Photo by Stuart Tannehill
sponsor nor endorse Gay Day, need
not have worried. There were no
arrests, and no one was kicked out.
Gay Pride across the country is celebrated in commemoration of the
June 27, 1969. Stonewall riots in
Greenwich Village when New York City
police raided the Stonewall Tavern on
Christopher Street, setting off days of
rioting by lesbians and gays.
The riots, said historians, marked
the start of modern lesbian and gay
activism that since has spread nationwide.
Since Gay Day at the Magic
Kingdom started eight years ago. gays
and lesbians have worn red shirts to
identify themselves at the theme park.
■An estimated 100,000 people were
in Orlando for the weekend festivities.
Disney officials wouldn't say how
many people were in Magic Kingdom,
although unlike past Gay Days it didn't fill to capacity, said spokesman Bill
Many families were nonplussed at
what they saw.
Jerry Leeker of St. Louis watched
with his sons, Brendan, 9, and Zack,
6, as a group of men in red shirts with
multicolored lettering lined up to spell
"We're Here," and after switching a
couple of letters. "We're Queer."
"Different strokes for different
folks," Leeker said.
Pride Arrives in Iowa City
IOWA CITY — The first public observance of Gay Pride Month in Cedar
Rapids. Iowa started Thursday as
more than 20 community organizations planned to take part in the celebration, which runs through
"Pride Fest is based on the belief that
a broad commitment to tolerance
strengthens our community." co-chairman F. John Herbert told the Cedar
Rapids Gazette. "Diversity is not only
the right thing to do — it also means a
safer city, a better business climate, a
more vibrant cultural scene and a
place where all visitors feel welcome."
The highlight of Gay Pride Month in
Cedar Rapids will be Pride Fest on
Saturday. Booths lining Greene
Square Park will offer food, drinks,
information, books, music and art. A
stage will feature music and entertainment, as well as community leaders,
who will speak in support of diversity
Gay Pride Month's Cedar Rapids
debut comes at a time when attenlion
is already focused on gay and lesbian
issues. In May, lhe Cedar Rapids Civil
Rights Commission decided to study
whether to modify the city's civil rights
ordinance to prohibit discrimination
based on sexual orientation.
More recently, the Parks and Police
departments have been dealing with
public concern over homosexual activity in Shaver Park. Despite the controversies, organizers are convinced the
time is right for a more visible gay
presence in Cedar Rapids.
See PRIDE page 25
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