Last week, amid all the DOMA hoopla, TV Guide timely announced that the last season of the Disney Channel's Good Luck Charlie will feature a family with two moms.
This has been received with exuberance among liberals and other gay rights supporters and has come as a shock to most.
While Disney and its subsidiaries have held a longstanding reputation of being socially conservative (perhaps stemming from Walt Disney's devout religious beliefs and conservative political stance), a closer look at the history of Disney shows that the company may have been sporting a gay rights agenda for over two decades.
1. Disney World's "Gay Days"
Since Disney World hosted its first annual Gay Days in 1991, it has grown to become one of the largest gay pride events in the world, with over 150,000 LGBT attendees each year. While Gay Days has been met with opposition by religious and conservative groups, it has also inspired some of the largest events and parties in the world. The fact that Disney chose to host Gay Days long before gay rights was even a hot topic suggests that, rather than lagging on progressive issues, Disney has long been on the forefront.
2. Health Benefits for Same Sex Partners
While Disney has never stated outright that it supports gay marriage, it has provided health benefits to its employees' same sex partners since 1995. This has sparked a lot of controversy in its more conservative home state of Florida, including a statement from the Florida Family Association accusing Disney of showing "an outright disrespect and arrogance in their attitude toward the American family.'' Disney, however, has not budged on its stance for providing these benefits.
3. "Fairy Tale Weddings" Invites Same Sex Couples
Continuing with the topic of gay marriage, Disney has allowed same sex wedding ceremonies at its resorts since 2007 as part of its "Fairy Tale Weddings" package. Again, we have not yet seen an explicit statement from Disney admitting to their support for gay rights, but we're starting to see a pattern here.
4. Disney's Opposition to DOMA
To really drive a point home, in February, Disney signed an amicus brief urging the Court to hold DOMA unconstitutional. The brief stated, "Our organizations are engaged in national and international competition ... competition demands teamwork, and teamwork thrives when the organization minimizes distracting differences and focuses on a common mission." By signing onto this amicus brief, Disney is acknowledging that it believes its mission at the forefront is enhanced, not hindered, by same-sex marriage.
5. Disney World's First Openly Gay President
Also in February of this year, Disney World hired its first openly gay president, George Kalogridis. Kalogridis was featured in an "It Gets Better" video in 2011, where he encouraged anyone who has ever been bullied for being gay that it does get better. Kalogridis and his long time partner Andy Hardy, who also works for Disney, are planning to build a home in Disney World's new luxury subdivision, Golden Oak.
These five telltale signs, among others, suggest that Good Luck Charlie's feature of a lesbian couple in its last season early next year may not be as shocking as many believe. While Disney may not reach the point of openly admitting its support for gay rights anytime soon, it has supported gay rights for over two decades and will continue to do so.