Growing up in Central Florida, I visited Walt Disney World often, and it remains my happy place to this day thanks to the love and acceptance I feel from my fellow cast members across the resort. That feeling of inclusion was brought beyond our gates and into the community this weekend, as hundreds of cast members participated in the annual Come Out With Pride parade in downtown Orlando.
This event brings thousands of local LGBTQIA+ members and allies together each year to celebrate the contributions, cultures and experiences of the community while also raising money for incredible organizations making a real difference in Central Florida.
“Participating in Orlando’s Come Out With Pride parade is our opportunity as cast members to come together and show Disney’s commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Michael Teplansky, Disney PRIDE employee resource group leader. “Disney is a place where all are welcome, and it was amazing celebrating the joining of my fellow cast members, family and allies who represent a rich diversity of backgrounds.”
I was so proud walking alongside Michael and fellow cast in “The Most Colorful Parade” as we celebrated love and diversity, shared our aspirations for the future and encouraged each other to live openly and with PRIDE. The memories we made together will forever hold a special place in my heart.”
As a Walt Disney World Ambassador, I see our cast members creating magic for guests every day. This weekend, each of you created magic FOR ME and so many of our neighbors by sharing your PRIDE. Thank you for continuing to spread that love and acceptance I’ve felt since my first visit to everyone around you—both inside and outside our castle walls.
I am a straight man, but working at Disneyland in the 1990s was my first experience working with the LGBTQIA+ community and they gained my respect. I went from homophobic to accepting very quickly, because these were people facing more struggles than I was (and did their jobs well). I have since embraced every effort that Disney (and society) has made to make this community feel welcome.
I remember when Disney was the first major U.S. company to make same-sex benefits a thing in and I was so proud to be a cast member when that happened. You were protecting my coworkers, and I couldn’t help but to applaud that
The fact that Disney has come so far, even since then, to keep moving forward, makes me proud to have been a cast member (or, as a friend who opened Splash Mountain at Disneyland says, “Once a cast member, ALWAYS a cast member”).
Disney is doing good things for the LGBTQIA+ community. I appreciate all you do to promote equality.