Dancing at Disneyland: Gays in the Fast Lane

Copyright (c) by Erica Davies, 2008. All rights reserved.

In 1980, 19 year-old Loara High School graduate Andrew Exler of Palm Springs sued Disneyland in 1980 for encroachment of his civil rights because of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Exler and his male date, Shawn Elliot, were escorted off the premises after security guards intervened on their "homosexual fast-dancing" and told them, "This is a family park. We do not put up with alternative lifestyles here."[1] The legal matter was dragged out in court for four years until May of 1984 when a Superior Court judge ruled that Exler's civil rights were impinged upon by the guards. Since the court verdict was in favor of the plaintiff, Disneyland consequently was ordered to abolish its ban on same-sex dancing and pay Exler's legal costs – which amounted to $25,000.[2] Yet, following the ruling, Disneyland's attorneys insisted it applied only to Exler and Elliot; others who engaged in "homosexual touching" thereafter at the theme park were not exempt from expulsion.

In February of 1988, three UCLA students filed a lawsuit against Disneyland citing another civil rights violation for similar discriminatory acts regarding sexual orientation. Christopher Drake, Eric Hubert, and Jeffrey Stabile, Jr. claimed their rights to slow-dance with each other at the amusement park was infringed upon in late 1987 by security guards who stated that "touch dancing is reserved for heterosexual couples only." The lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiffs shortly after being filed and before the case was submitted to the Superior Court in Orange County because of Disneyland's motion to reassert its non-discriminatory written policy for the public media.[3] In disbelief of this almost identical incident, Exler was appalled by the recurring discrimination and Disneyland's failure to preach tolerance among its staff and visitors. "I'm surprised that it took nearly 10 years for the Happiest Place on Earth to admit that they must operate under the civil rights laws just like any other business."[4].

Exler is currently a civil rights activist in Southern California who legally changed his name to "Crusader" in 1995. He operates an established controversial column online called "Crusader's Corner". The website features an array of civil rights lawsuits and social change cast in a humorous light and his writings chronicle witty remarks about politics, consumer rights, celebrities, and sex.[5]


  1. Griffin, Sean. Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. Pg. 126.
  2. Heuberger, Frank W. and Kellner, Hansfried. Hidden Technocrats: The New Class and New Capitalism. Pg. 171.
  3. Krupat, Kitty and McCreery, Patrick. Out at Work: Building a Gay-Labor Alliance. Pg. 220.
  4. Exler, Andrew. "The Civil Rights Webring: Crusader's Corner.” Accessed November 20th, 2007. http://u.webring.com/hub?ring=civilrightsforal
  5. Exler, Andrew. "The Civil Rights Webring: Crusader's Corner.” Accessed November 20th, 2007. http://u.webring.com/hub?ring=civilrightsforal