The Most Romantic and Fearful Dance of My Life

The first weekend of June is upon us, and I’ve been thinking about a celebration that happens every year at this time that brings up lots of memories. Since 1991, members of the LGBTQ+ Community have gathered at the Walt Disney World Resort on the first weekend in June to kick off Pride Month. “Gay Days,” as it’s called, is not officially promoted or sponsored by Disney, but I have no doubt the company enjoys the boost in attendance and revenue every June. You’ll find lots of rainbow merchandise in the gift shops this month. 

It started small with approximately 3,000 participants at the Magic Kingdom on that Saturday. In the years that followed, it quickly grew to a multiple-day, multiple-park event attracting over 100,000 participants. I worked in the Entertainment Department during what was probably the height of the event’s popularity, and it was unquestionably the best day to be a performer. The energy we received from the crowd that day was probably more than we received on the other 364 days combined!  

Throughout the event, LGBTQ+ community members wear red shirts to identify themselves. The Magic Kingdom is still the designated theme park for Saturday, and the designated spot to gather for the 3 o’clock parade is “Castle Hub.” That’s the plaza area in front of Cinderella Castle where the pathways extend out like spokes of a wheel to all the other lands. Because of the high volume of LGBTQ+ attendees, guests wearing red shirts fill the entire hub and extend down Main Street, USA. It’s quite something to witness!

My first year performing on that Saturday in the Magic Kingdom, I had the unique privilege of being Pluto, Mickey Mouse’s beloved dog, in the Mickey Mania Parade. I couldn’t believe my eyes and ears when our float made the left turn in front of the castle. There was an ocean of red shirts as far as the eye could see. The exuberant cheers from the crowd sent lightning bolts of energy all through my body. I’m guessing it was a fraction of what Madonna feels when she takes the stage at one of her massive stadium concerts. It was intoxicating! To show his appreciation, Pluto danced his puppy tail off for the joyful red shirt-wearing revelers! 

The next time I experienced that rush of energy was in 1997, but the circumstances were a little different. We were performing a new parade called “Remember the Magic” to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Walt Disney World. Floats and characters from some of Disney’s most beloved animated films were featured in this new parade. 

For the first time in the park’s history, the entire procession of floats came to a stop 5 times during the parade. Guests were invited to come out onto the street to dance with us during these “show stops.” The performers sought out willing participants to join the fun and learn simple dance steps to be part of the show. Performing in that parade was always unique because you never knew who you would get as a dance partner. 

I was thrilled when I showed up to work that day and saw my name on the parade sign-in sheet next to my friend Shannon’s. We were one of six couples in Cinderella’s Royal Court, the unit that led the parade. We danced in front of an enormous castle float carrying Cinderella, Prince Charming, Mickey, Minnie and their pals. 

Our costumes were gorgeous! The women wore elegant white ball gowns with blue and gold trim, while the men wore matching white embroidered jackets with silver and gold epaulets. Imagine the Fairy Godmother collaborating with the Bridgerton costume designers and you’ve got the right idea. It was one of my favorite roles in the parade because the choreography was extremely fun and the costume made me feel regal. 

As we waved and promenaded across the bridge next to Cinderella Castle, Shannon and I could hear the volume of the red-shirt-clad crowd getting louder and louder. It was exhilarating. We were both smiling ear to ear for the opportunity to dance together in our favorite role on that special day.  

Once the castle float made the left turn in front of the castle, it stopped for our 4th show stop. All the parade supervisors were on duty that day, and they gave us very specific instructions before the parade stepped off. Treat this like any other day in the park. Male court dancers were to select female partners from the crowd, and female court dancers were to select male partners. They would be stationed all along the parade route to ensure there were no transgressions.

Little did I know, I was about to transgress. My partner (I’ll call him Eric) and I had been together for 4 years at that point. Eric loved to take videos with a handheld camcorder. Younger readers may have to Google that. This story happened way before people captured every moment of their lives on smartphones to post on social media. 

Anyway, Eric had strategically stationed himself in front of the castle among the throngs of red shirts to get a video of his boyfriend performing in the parade on Gay Days. Unbeknownst to me, he had another agenda. A gay agenda, if you will. When the parade stopped, he handed his video camera to the woman next to him and asked her to please keep filming. As he walked onto the street toward us, I thought, “Oh no! What is he doing?!?”

Before I could even think about choosing another dance partner, Eric joined hands with Shannon and me, and the three of us waltzed to “So This Is Love” for just a few beats. Quite unexpectedly, Shannon broke away from us to find her own dance partner, leaving Eric and me dancing with each other. The crowd went crazy!  

The swell of cheers and applause was deafening. Who knew two men dancing together in front of Cinderella Castle would elicit such a response? I’m feeling tingles through my body just writing about it. Unfortunately, the only thing I felt in that moment was dread. The first thought that entered my mind was, “I wonder if Universal Studios is hiring?” I’m not making that up. I actually asked myself that question.

I know. I know. Eric had orchestrated an incredibly romantic gesture. Not to mention an empowering and affirming moment for us and all the members of the LGBTQ+ community who witnessed it. Instead of savoring the experience of love and support, I let fear completely hijack the moment. I was furious with Eric for putting my job at risk with this stunt!

For the rest of the parade, I was sweating it out. Not because it was a hot summer day but because I wondered which parade supervisor had seen us dancing and when would I be called to the office for disciplinary action and possible dismissal. Sadly, I couldn’t enjoy the last show stop or finishing the parade.

Would you like to know what happened after that? I’ll tell you. Absolutely nothing. No one said a word to me about it. No reprimand from a supervisor. No call to the office. Not even a bad show note from the staging specialists. Nothing! 

When I look back on this from a higher perspective, this shouldn’t surprise me. Being gay in the Entertainment Department was not a big deal. The parade supervisors were either gay or gay allies. Yes, they did their due diligence and told us to pick a partner of the opposite gender, but if any of them had seen what happened, they probably would have been cheering too! 

Maybe none of them did see what happened. There were so many people jammed into that area it would have been difficult, if not impossible, to find a spot to watch from there. So all my worrying and all that anger was for nothing. I let fear ruin what could have been the most romantic and joyful dance of my life.  

I never did see the footage from Eric’s camera, but I would probably be embarrassed to see fear and anger on my face instead of joy and gratitude. I try to live without regrets. Every choice is a learning opportunity, and each one has led me to where I am now. Even so, this choice comes dangerously close to falling into the regret category. 

Yet, I certainly learned a profound lesson from this experience. It taught me how powerful fear can be if we let it lead the way. It can sabotage even the most uniquely joyful moments. As A Course in Miracles teaches, fear and love are mutually exclusive thought systems. If one is in control, there is no room for the other. As I often invite representatives to say during a Family Constellations session, “If I could do it differently, I would.” And in the immortal words of the seemingly immortal gay icon, Cher: “If I could turn back time!”  

Perhaps my story will help you choose love over fear the next time you find yourself in a heightened experience. It would be my great honor to give you some tools to help with that in a series of Spiritual Coaching Sessions or to create a new story during a Family Constellations Session. Please look around my website for more information or to book a session with my automated scheduler. I look forward to helping you choose love more consistently.

Happy Pride Month!

Misperceptions produce fear and true perceptions foster love…

A Course in Miracles ~ T-3.III.1:8

Share your thoughts and Follow below!

Subscribe and receive a FREE GIFT!

Join our mailing list to receive weekly inspiration, news about upcoming events, and a link to a FREE GUIDED MEDITATION.

You have Successfully Subscribed!