Often, a group of my friends and I meet up to record a podcast called The Boys Talk. We are a group of four men that have something to say about, well, everything. One of our most favorite things to do as a group is take leisurely strolls through Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. Going to Disneyland as a child was always a treat. Whether my parents were feeling frugal or generous, every moment I spent in that park was a moment I cherished. In fact, I will be living my childhood dream later in March and finally going to Disney World with my fellow co-hosts from The Boys Talk.
I have often felt some guilt for feeding this place my money because Walt Disney himself is tied to several movements that are anything but progressive. In fact, it dawned on me while watching Saving Mr. Banks that Disneyland Park opened up in 1955. Just under a decade later, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal for businesses to discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin. I've heard that Disneyland wouldn't let people of color in the park pre-1964. The Walt Disney Company has often denied this argument and claims they didn't. History, after all, is the interpretation of intents and actions.
But on Friday when I woke up, there was good news. Disney took a stand against homophobia. Disney sided with progress. Their charitable arm decided to no longer fund The Boy Scouts of America because of values that Disney doesn't want to identify with.
It's an exciting moment in history to witness.
A friend of mine mentioned one day that his dad didn't like the idea of going to Disneyland because they participated in the active discrimination against people of color. I'm glad to report that I was not alive at the time. I mean, I still have the energy to go to Disneyland about 35 times a year. But what I'm really getting at is that if this is truly what happened at the park, shouldn't we applaud that they didn't let history repeat itself? Isn't the point of history to learn from our mistakes?
Where the biggest lesson to be learned here is that the Boys Scouts continue to disregard strong public opinion on LGBT Americans. While they changed their policy on scouts, they haven't changed their policy on adults. Is it going to take a federal law to make them change their ways? The only argument they have is religious freedom and even that gets misinterpreted. I'm pretty sure God or Jesus never discriminated against anyone -- these guys are saints!
Today is a great day. It's a day where a huge family company did what families do all the time -- protect and defend each other. I'll continue to be a proud passholder and am more excited than ever to finally live my childhood dream of going to Disney World. I'm proud that I won't hesitate to take my kids to a park that appreciates my existence -- and defends it. I will get to share a different history with them -- one that doesn't include discrimination. That is a dream come true.
Lester Alemán is a co-host on The Boys Talk, a weekly entertainment and lifestyle podcast. He is also a senior volunteer at GLAAD and is their National Chair of Young Adults Initiatives. He is the former Director of the Stonewall Resource Center at Grinnell College, where he also received his bachelor's degree in Sociology. Lester currently lives in Los Angeles and works full-time in the education sector.
To catch a glimpse of The Boys Talk, click here: http://www.podomatic.com/profile/theboystalk