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How Gay Is Cedar Point?

Jason A. Michael

Cedar Point. "America's Roller Coast." I've been making the two-hour trek down to Sandusky, Ohio to go to the beloved amusement park since I was a wee lad. I feel practically ancient, dear readers, when I confess that when I first started going, the biggest rollercoasters in the park were the Gemini and the Corkscrew. In fact, I remember very clearly when Demon Drop was the newest ride in the park. That was 1983. I also recall when, in 2009, the ride was dismantled and transferred to Cedar Point's smaller sister park, Dorney Park, located in Allenstown, Pennsylvania. Do I feel old? You bet your season pass I do.

But I digress. The point of this column is not how decrepit I am; it's how the park has evolved. Ten years ago this month, in 2013, Cedar Point canceled a planned wedding contest when a gay couple, Scott Kenimond and Eric Morrison from Akron, was denied entrance and a protest was organized in response. Cedar Point said at the time the contest was only open to straight couples because gay couples were not allowed to marry in Ohio at that time. Nevertheless, the protest shut the contest down.

Cedar Point justified the cancellation saying the contest had become political and "Cedar Point does not take any official stance on political issues," according to a statement the park released at the time. But Morrison didn't buy it. "I'm disappointed they would choose to go that way rather than stand behind their LGBT community," he told the Cleveland News. "Ultimately, they're playing it safe. But it's a cowardly choice."

Marriage equality, of course, became the law of the land just two short years later, the result of a much more balanced Supreme Court at the time. Of course, these days the infirm and spiteful Clarence Thomas is suggesting that decision should be revisited. But this is all just a bit of factual background and I digress yet again.

Cedar Point has been known for years for its Gay Day, which interestingly enough takes place every year on Father's Day. The first one actually took place on June 14, 1969. The day is completely unofficial and is neither recognized nor condemned by the park. Several online posts have found dads disgruntled by the fact they had to share the park with daddies - and cubs - on their special day.

So, 10 years after the marriage contest bruhaha, and just months after Walt Disney World lost its right to self-govern after taking on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his "Don't Say Gay" policy, where does Cedar Point stand on queer rights? While no one on my very youthful Facebook friends list has worked at Cedar Point in the last 10 years, Judith Flowers, a queer ally, worked at the park for a few months just after the wedding mess.

"I believe Cedar Point to be LGBTQ+ friendly as it relates to their employees," she said. "I saw a lot of gay men and women working for the company. The dorms appeared to be a safe haven for a lot of folks who left home early and needed a start or experience at something new."

Unlike another of its sister parks, Kings Island, just outside of Cincinnati, there is still no officially authorized Gay Day at Cedar Point. (Kings Island hosts a Pride Night at the Park in September.) Cedar Point also does not advertise in any queer media.

"I personally think that it's a huge mistake that Cedar Point [and its parent company] Cedar Fair doesn't have a strong presence in the LGBTQ+ market," said Cindy Gunderson of Crowbar, one of Sandusky's most popular queer bars. "They absolutely should have Gay Days. - They are a regular sponsor of Sandusky Pride, which is at least something."

Yes, that's something. And probably all we're gonna get for now. So I guess it's safe for you (rollercoaster) size queens to continue to enjoy the park. But if you do happen to go on Gay/Daddy Day, please remember to dress appropriately. Collars and leashes optional.

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