In a new Instagram post, EPCOT reimagining Creative Portfolio Executive Zach Riddley spoke out against Florida’s Parental Rights in Education bill, commonly known as “Don’t Say Gay”, in a lengthy statement.
In the post, he speaks of his experience growing up gay and the bullying he faced throughout his childhood, which lead to depression. He also shares his positive experiences with storytellers who come from different backgrounds, including those who are LGBTQ+.
His entire post reads as follows:
I’ve watch [sic] in anger and frustration as the legislation in Florida was passed. As a kid I grew up in a community that lacked awareness and understanding of what being gay is – and that led to fear, to bullying and to sadness. Sadness that you are somehow different, that you are not worthy of love and that you are not worthy of support, friendship or acceptance. Kids coming from a family with two dads or two moms – that’s as much a part of them as the color of their eyes or the color of their skin. I believe we only move forward by learning and by teaching everyone that it is okay to embrace difference, and ensure everyone feels they belong.
There is tremendous richness that comes from a world that reflects all of us – stories, adventures, places real and places fantastic that are created in part by the minds of those who are different. That is a legacy of creativity that has defined generations of fans across the world. That is a legacy we are honored to be a part of.
I am speaking as an individual, but also a leader and a proud, married gay man when I say that I do not support this legislation. I have made many friendships throughout my time at Disney with incredible LGBTQ+ Cast, Imagineers, leaders and allies. We are a strong community and our voices and our experiences matter.
We have come a long way in our journey, listening and learning from one another. And there is so much more to do. We need to keep progress moving forward with greater understanding, acceptance and appreciation. I stand with all of you who share these values and who represent all those who need to be reminded – you matter, you are not alone, you are valued and you are loved for exactly who you truly are.
A number of Cast Members previously spoke out against the company and CEO Bob Chapek for failing to outright denounce the bill before Chapek did so yesterday.