The Gay Days celebrations in Orlando just turned twenty-four and it was a really enormous blast. It was certainly bigger than last year when over 160,000 people turned up and participated in the various events. It is now a well-established tradition that the Gays Days in Orlando are held in the first week of June with the dates for this year (2014) being from the 3rd through to the 9th.
A couple of decades ago just a handful of gay and lesbian folks gathered together and sampled Walt Disney World’s many attractions. Little did they realise that the red shirts they wore on that one day would grow to become a virtual LGBT, red-shirted army that dominates the Orlando area for an entire week. As the once iconic advertisement said, “You’ve come a long way baby,”
This year the enthusiastic support for the event by numerous associations and theme parks saw Greater Orlando turn into one big week-long party. Hotels, bars, restaurants, nightclubs and countless other venues made special efforts to ensure that the gay community were its most feted and welcome guests.
Throughout the week there were dedicated Gay Days Men’s, Women’s and Bear’s pool parties. Many restaurants and hotels had gay focused social get-togethers, events and parties. Even retail outlets got into the act with discounts and displays aimed at the LGBT community.
A growing segment of the Gay Days celebrations is now aimed at kids. This is becoming more and more important given the increase in the number of gay and lesbian people with children. Those stores and venues were certainly a hit this year.
Besides the parties, there were music concerts, stand-up comedy shows and other entertainment, which starred iconic names from within the LGBT and also the wider industry. In fact, on opening night, The Parliament House hosted a special concert by Da Bratt. It was a huge success and was a great way to get the Gay Days week off to a rocking start. On the evening of the 6th, Disney put on a spectacular party at the Typhoon Lagoon Waterpark.
Other artists who performed during the course of the week included Karmin, Neon Hitch, Ross Mathews, Pollo Del Mar, DJ Luis Perez, Britney Spears, Mahlae Banenciaga, Mona Lot Moore, the Hypnotik Dance Crew and a whole pack of other great acts. These shows were some of the most popular events because it is not often that the LGBT community gets to see their favourite acts in one place.
The centre of all the buzz however, was the host hotel, the Double Tree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World. The hotel was also the venue of the Gay Days Orlando Expo and it was packed to the rafters with patrons the entire time. It’s not surprising given that the Expo hosted the single largest collection of Gay and Lesbian related travel, entertainment and business services in the world.
It was a terrific opportunity for the community to check out a whole range of goods and services. Displays at the Expo included bathroom remodels, gourmet cooking suppliers and sex toys manufacturers. Manufacturers of home decor, furnishings, fashions and styles also pitched their stalls. Other organisations offered free health tests and vaccinations to attendees. This year was the 16th such expo.
It you missed out this year then get out your calendars and highlight the following dates - 2nd June 2015 through 8th June 2015 – for the 25th Gay Days Anniversary in Orlando. Make sure to plan early so you don't miss out.