As Disney World and Universal Orlando Celebrate Pride Month, Florida Named ‘Least Gay-Friendly State’ in America

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A person in a suit and tie is shown in front of a large rainbow flag. The flag's colors are vibrant, waving against a clear sky. The person appears to be making an expression as they look slightly to the right.

Credit: Inside the Magic

In the days leading up to Pride Month and just as the Pride Celebrations started at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, Florida Gov Ron DeSantis banned cities from using Rainbow colors on local bridges. This was part of what Governor Ron DeSantis dubbed “Freedom Summer.”

A smiling man and woman stand in front of a Disney World castle. The man holds a rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse head sign, celebrating a beloved gay icon. Both are casually dressed and appear happy in the bright, sunny setting. Metal railings and a fountain are also visible in the background.
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And now, just days into Disney World’s Pride Month celebration, Florida has been named the “Least Gay-Friendly State” in America by Axios. The news site based its claim on legislation passed by the Florida Legislature in the last two years and moves made by in the state that are deemed as anti-LGBTQ+.

The last time Axios made the list of most gay-friendly states was in 2022; on that list, Florida ranked in the middle third. However, that was before the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis passed a series of laws that targeted the LGBTQ+ Community.

Axios cited the 2022 Parental Rights in Education Act, known by its critics as the “Don’t say Gay” Bill, a law banning children from attending drag shows, book bans that targeted members of the LGBTQ community, and laws that ban gender-affirming care in the state.

The Walt Disney Company’s response to the Parental Rights in Education Act ignited its feud with Governor Ron DeSantis. However, the two seemed to have buried the hatchet, and the Walt Disney Co. has started donating to Florida politicians again, including those who supported “Don’t Say Gay.” 

Disney Pride. Heart hands and rainbow.
Credit: Spectrum News

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Despite the warning from Axios, thousands from the LGBTQ community flocked to Disney World this week for Gay Day at the parks.

After passing some of these laws, the courts believe they are unconstitutional. Judges have rolled back some of the rules that restricted drag shows and prevented teachers from using their preferred pronouns in schools.

During this year’s session, the Florida Legislature seems to have lost its appetite for culture fights. Of the 22 laws that Equality Florida said would adversely impact Florida’s LGBTQ+ community, only one passed.

Equality Florida senior policy advisor Carlos Guillermo Smith

Intense collective opposition from advocates was responsible for those wins. LGBTQ+ Floridians are proud, we are resilient, and we’re determined to carry on in spite of the governor’s obsession with attacking our community for political gain.

Two people are posing in a lush park with a large geodesic dome in the background, reminiscent of Disney World. The person on the left is hugging the other around the waist. The taller person on the right, a true gay icon, is holding colorful balloons and smiling. Trees and a clear sky are visible.
Credit: Disney

Disney World paid the price after former Disney CEO Bob Chapek spoke out against the Parental Rights in Education Act. Disney Parks were stripped of the Reedy Creek Improvement District, and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District replaced it.

However, according to the Orlando Sentinel, all of that seems to have been forgotten, as Disney and Governor DeSantis have “kissed and made up.”

It remains to be seen if this will affect attendance at Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort’s Pride Month events.

Do you think Florida is the least “gay-friendly” state in America? 

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