Take a bow, Judge Ross! In Chapter 11 of Jesse James Soul Liberty, Vol. I, the late Judge James R. Ross a great-grandson of Jesse James, risked the loss of his judicial career when he proclaimed before a judicial review panel, “I’m a great-grandson of Jesse James. No one in our family backs down.”
Jim Ross was responding to the political vendetta brought against him by conservative political elements in Orange County, California. Jim made the landmark ruling that found Disneyland guilty of violating the civil rights of two gay young men. Disneyland evicted the couple for dancing together.
That was in 1980. At the same time at Disney World, a young gay man named George Kalogridis had been busing tables for Disney for nine years. He liked his job. He liked working at Disney. But he probably didn’t like being forced to keep part of himself a secret to keep his job. In the 33 years since Jim Ross made the courageous decision that fatefully cost him his career, the equal rights of gays is now a recognized fact in America. Thanks in part to a great-grandson of Jesse James, gays can be freely open to be who they are.
Today in 2013, Alex Kalogridis is the first openly gay president of Walt Disney World, overseeing its operations in Anaheim, California. He’s also Chief Operating Officer of the Disneyland Resort in Paris. On June 1 of each year, Disneyland plays host to the LGBT community holding one of the world largest gay pride parades in America, attracting more than 150,000 visitors.
Take a bow, Jim Ross. Thank you for paying the price to assure equal rights in America. As the Associated Press reported at the time of Jim’s passing, “with that one ruling, Ross proved himself a far better man than his famous ancestor.”