If you've been following the fallout behind Florida's disastrous "Don't Say Gay" bill, you will have noticed that one corporate name keeps coming up: The Walt Disney Company.
Disney, which has a history of supporting LGBTQ rights since the early 1990s, has been the subject of protests for over a week from LGBTQ advocates and its own employees, alike, for what many feel is the company's lackluster and mealy-mouthed response to the legislation.
Over the past week, the multibillion dollar conglomerate, led by CEO Bob Chapek, flip-flopped from radio silence and tacit approval to day-late-and-dollar-short-denunciation. Here's a timeline of events.
Thursday, February 17, 2022
This article from Substack publication Popular Information went viral and shined a spotlight on corporations funding the sponsors of the "Don't Say Gay Bill." Disney was not included in the article, but it set the stage for people to being digging into Disney's possible contributions in the coming two weeks.
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Global nonprofit, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), launched a TV ad campaign in the Orlando, FL market "imploring the Walt Disney Company to speak out publicly and loudly in opposition to the hateful “Don’t Say Gay” legislation pending in Florida (FL’s HB1557 and SB1834)."
On the same day, The Hollywood Reporter published this piece about Disney CEO Bob Chapek, citing insiders who say he "is less willing than predecessor Bob Iger to take public political stands — including on LGBTQ issues and voting rights."
Thursday, March 3 - Friday, March 4, 2022
As the public outcry grew, AHF held bicoastal protest rallies in California and Florida against the bill, which at that point had passed the Florida State House.
Saturday, March 5 - Sunday, March 6, 2022
Brave LGBTQ Disney employees spoke out via Twitter posts and videos against their employer's lackluster response to the bill:
Monday, March 7, 2022
The following LGBTQ Disney employee video goes viral: twitter.com/DanaTerrace.
But despite mounting pressure over the weekend, in a memo to employees, Disney CEO Bob Chapek doubled down on staying silent about the bill.
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
In a stunning reversal––one day after the bill passed the Florida State Senate by just five votes––CEO Bob Chapek publicly states that Disney opposes the bill and that he will express his concerns directly to Gov. Ron DeSantis.
He also said that Disney will donate $5 million to organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, that work to protect LGTBQ+ rights. But the HRC said "boy, bye" and refused the donation.
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Friday, March 11, 2022
Chapek formally apologized to employees about the company's failure to support the queer community, saying "I let you down. I am sorry."
The company also pledged to stop Florida political donations as a result of the bill.