Responses Vary to Tomorrow’s Planned ‘Day Without a Gay’

The AP reports on tomorrow’s planned nationwide action “Day Without a Gay” in which gay people and allies are being urged to take the day off from work and engage in community service, as an offshoot demonstration related to California’s passage of Proposition 8:

Dwag“Organizers of ‘Day Without a Gay’ — scheduled to coincide with International Human Rights Day and modeled after similar work stoppages by Latino immigrants — also are encouraging people to perform volunteer work and refrain from spending money. Sean Hetherington, a West Hollywood comedian and personal trainer, dreamed up the idea with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, after reading online that a few angry gay-rights activists were calling for a daylong strike to protest California voters’ passage last month of Proposition 8, which reversed this year’s state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. The couple thought it would be more effective and less divisive if people were asked to perform community service instead of staying home with their wallets shut. Dozens of nonprofit agencies, from the National Women’s Law Center in Washington to a Methodist church in Fresno collecting food for the homeless, have posted opportunities for volunteers on the couple’s Web site.”

Others, they note, have expressed uncertainty about the strategy:

road.jpg Said Jules Graves, 38, coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance: “It’s extra-challenging for people to think about taking off work as a form of protest, given that we are talking about people who may not be out (as gay) at work, and given the current economic situation and job market. There is really not any assurance employers would appreciate it for what it is.”

road.jpg “Join The Impact, the online community that launched protests last month over the passage of gay marriage bans in California, Florida and Arizona, has urged people to withdraw $80 from their bank accounts Wednesday to demonstrate gays’ spending power, and to devote the time they might otherwise spend watching TV or surfing the Internet to volunteer work.”

road.jpg “Witeck-Combs Communications, a public relations firm in Washington that specializes in the gay and lesbian market, published a study this year that estimated that gay and lesbian consumers spend $700 billion annually. Bob Witeck, the firm’s chief executive officer, said it would be difficult to measure the success of Wednesday’s strike since gay employees occupy so many fields. And rather than suspending all consumer spending for the day, gay rights supporters would have a bigger impact if they devoted their dollars to gay-friendly businesses year-round, Witeck said.”

Same-sex marriage supporters urge gays and lesbians to ‘call in gay’ Wednesday [ap via mercury news]
Prop. 8 foes set ‘Day Without a Gay’ boycott [sf chronicle]
Day Without a Gay [official site]
Join the Impact on ‘Day Without a Gay’ [join the impact]


  1. Anthony in Nashville says

    I understand what they are trying to do, but most people I know can’t afford to participate. In most states you can still be fired for being gay, so “calling in gay” would be just the motivation some companies need for firing you.

  2. Patrick says

    This kind of action is divisive. Some people have no choice but to work. Not all gays have disposable income and flexibility in their jobs. If you do go to work, and you’re “out”, are you then making a statement that you don’t support the cause? Why are we putting ourselves in such a position? It’s unfair. There has to be a better way to make an impact.

  3. says

    I REALLY need to say this but at this time and after what happened in CA with Prop 8 I believe just focusing on Gay Marriage is too small an issue now.

    Yhe passage of Prop 8 should have been a cataylst for the Gay Community NOT ONLY to fucus and demand the right to marry. But to DEMAND EQUAL RIGHTS, PROTECTIONS, AND CILIL LIBERTIES ON A FEDERAL LEVEL. Much akin to the The Civil Rights Act of 1964


    FEDERALLY THERE ISN’T EVEN AN ANTI-DISCRIMINATION EMPLOYMENT PROTECTYION. Although a broad umbrella of federal laws protects people from workplace discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age, and disability, those facing discrimination based on sexual orientation have largely been left out in the rain — at least at the national level. There is no federal law that specifically outlaws workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the private sector.


    Gay Marriage is just 1 Baby Step. And as horrible as it may seem its not eneough to get everyone behind us. We need to put the fouc more on our treatment as second class citizens and demand a change.

    Its been 40 years since Stonewall. baby steps aren;t working. We need to band together and fight for IT ALL. Not just little bits and pieces.

  4. Strepsi says

    I agree with the posters, it is well intentioned but ultimately like much of the Prop 8 campaign, preaching to the choir. In heravily gay industries and locations, business would certainly grind to a halt – but then these are heavily gay industries so why punish them?

    I much prefer the tactics of NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY — come out to 1 person, any person, in your own way, that day. people find it harder to hate those they know and love.

  5. Matt says

    I will not be participating. In this econmy, my work is already slow and I need to show my boss that I shouldn’t be the first on the chopping block because I took a gay sick day. I also believe that those who do take a sick day will party on the night of the 9th and sleep in on the 10th since they aren’t going to work. I know that’s a biased statement but I know the gay men I know.

  6. says

    it hasn’t been promoted or hyped enough to make participation seem genuine or effective.
    most employers will consider it shirking work… and as worse, a joke. the backlash at work could be more of a disgusted disbelief rather than homophobia.

  7. matt says

    i consider myself to be a rather well-informed person — how is it that this is the first i’ve heard of tomorrow being a national “call in gay” day? should this not have been publicized very widely for a while to make sure as many people as possible knew about it?

  8. Michael Bedwell says

    Just when I thought this idea had already reached the zenith of its idiocy, now comes the “withdraw $80 from your bank account” nonsense.

    EXACTLY the same problem that you don’t have to be a marketing expert like Mr. Witeck to get: there’s NO fucking way to measure it so we couldn’t demonstrate success and, therefore, we can’t demonstrate the political/economic power that’s supposed to be the goal.

    And Idiotic Idea #2 is worse than Idiotic Idea #1 because while few employers have huge numbers of employees, most banks have thousands of depositors. If two queens from the 20-person department at Acme Phuckoff & Dye call in “gay” they might be noticed—AND they might be put on notice for risking being fired for job abandonment.

    But most banks have THOUSANDS of depositors. Therefore, it would take HUGE numbers of withdrawals beyond the tens/hundreds of [millions of] transactions that go on by ATM and online in any given day to be noticed. Or do they want us to take time away from that wonderful volunteer work to go personally to the bank, find parking, wait in line, and yell as loud as you can as a teller finally waits on you: I’M GAY AND I’M TAKING OUT $80 TO SHOW HOW POWERFUL I AM?

    Yes, a HANDFUL of TV stations out of the HUNDREDS around the country might call a few businesses and banks and ask if they’ve noticed any numerically significant activity…and the answer will be, loosely translated: get real, Mary!

    Which is exactly what the children/childish minds behind the Join the Impacted Bowels NONrevolution should do or “Stonewall 2.0″ will soon be declared stillborn. Most of the criticism of various existing “gay leaders” was valid. But too many of those calling for giants to replace them have settled for mental Munchkins.

  9. says

    “Acme Phuckoff & Dye” ! I’M LAUGHING MY FUCKING ASS OFF!

    This is a lame idea. I’m a huge fan of the grassroots but if every hairbrained idea gets media attention and nothing happens the media (and therefore the country) is going to think our movement is dying a slow silly death.

    Btw, this smacks of (I hate to say it, I don’t want to say it, I have to say it) a couple of Weho queens who don’t know what’s it’s like to live outside of the gay ghetto.

    Guys, I think your heart is in the right place. However, if you really want to do something, arrange for a bunch of your “I never go east of West Hollywood Target” friends to go to another ‘hood and do some charity work. Actually meeting “the Gays” outside of their natural habitat will probably mean a lot more in the long run.

    Here in Vegas we’re having an “Our Money Counts” march this Saturday at 3pm. If you’re in the area feel free to join us. 953 e. Sahara at the Commercial Center. We’re meeting at the LGBT center.

    Thanks T-Road for keeping us all informed about the movement!

  10. says

    FYI – for those above who asked, I won’t be calling in gay tomorrow. I’ll be here – same gay time, same gay channel.

  11. Castigator says

    All of these ideas are just plain stupid in the current economic and political climate. We need real leadership, and a coordinated political strategy, not these Ad Hoc pansy drama queen tantrum events.

  12. Brandon says

    It’s kind of amazing. People are trying to come up with a way to be active and some folks want to rip them to shreds instead of offering constructive criticism.

    While I like the idea of calling in gay, I think this tactic might be a bit premature because it’s got to be “big” for it to be effective. I also agree that is also VERY risky for the vast majority of gay people that don’t have antidiscrimination protections at work. As for withdrawing $80 dollars, I think that’s problematical because (a) you’d need a huge number of people for it to be demonstrative and (b) the last thing we need is any sort of “run” on bank deposits given the economy.

    However, I do think some sort of national economic action could be effective. This was one of the tactics that people used to help make MLK Day a holiday.

    We just have to find the right one.

  13. Enrique says

    I’ll be participating in Day Without a Gay. Although this may be a less-than-perfect strategy, I like the volunteer work aspect of the action. (I’ll be spending the day doing data entry for a mentoring program for LGBT youth.) Luckily for me, I’m able to do this without any type of financial hardship or employer repercussions. Perhaps the impact won’t be the dramatic, sweeping national one that gets covered by USA Today and other mainstream press. But on a smaller more personal level, I think that the action can make an impact by helping local organizations who’ve been lacking adequate manpower, and by also spurring/continuing the dialogue. I’ve had a few dozen conversations with co-workers, clients and others about the various bigger issues at play when discussing why I’ve taken the day off. And it wasn’t always a case of “preaching to the choir.”

    Maybe people have trouble wrapping their heads around this action because it doesn’t revolve around a specific culpable target or bad guy that can be targeted/demonized within our own gay bubble (the Mormons Church, Cinemark, El Coyote, old guard gay community leaders and activists)?

  14. Jeff says

    I am lucky enough to work for an organization that honors and respects that I am gay. It would be disloyal of me to use my employer as a tool to protest inequality.

    While this is a start, I don’t think it will achieve the goal the organizers expect. There are too many factors that will make it difficult for people to participate.

  15. RyRy says

    Personally I can’t condone taking tomorrow off from work. I have two jobs. Both of my employers are extremely gay friendly. One of which donated $100k to No On 8. The other has a gay resource group and had domestic partner benefits, I say “had” because in Massachusetts it’s now just regular spousal benefits and we have to be married.. just like the straight people in the office need to be married to get spousal benefits. wow, actual equality. They march in Boston Pride every year as well.

    I’m not going to punish them or myself with a day off when they do a lot for the LGBT community.

  16. ugotmeinsd_619 says

    I’m going into work tomorrow. I think the idea is childish and will not prove anything. Plus, I see that local gay bar/food establishments are “sponsoring” the Day Without A Gay by promoting happy hour prices for the entire day. So basically, most of the gays will be getting sloshed in order to “protest”.

  17. Eric says

    I don’t even have a job.

    Though I’m hoping the school will allow me to call in gay to the final exam I have tomorrow. lol

  18. Paul says

    OMG are you fucking kidding me?
    Instead of worrying about their carb intake and their protein shakes These 2 meat heads should have planned ahead, LIKE 2 YEARS AGO and started raising money to fight prop 8 like the opposition did. Like I have said before, too little too late. Sad commentary coming from a married fag living in weho. I work for a fortune 500 with over 2700 gay/lesbian employess who have domestic partner benefits, I have personally sent a memo to all of them saying I expect them to be here and do their jobs, tardiness will NOT be tollerated but have organised a lunch for the entire company from a recognised gay catering company as a nod to a job well done

  19. JJ says

    My mother in law lost her job yesterday. My partner graduated a few months ago and still can’t find a job. I work for a company that is very supportive of gays and I am open at work. Now, tell me again how this is going to help the cause? This is a stupid idea.

    We f’ed up Prop 8 on our own thinking that people would do the right thing and vote our way. We threw advertising dollars out but didn’t actually do any outreach.

    People need to let go of their frustration and focus on why we lost Prop 8. We have to educate people who don’t have regular contact with gays.

    Btw, a great article in Newsweek this week about how the bible actually supports gay marriage and love, not opposes it. I think reading that is a better tactic today.

  20. Leland Frances says

    Good for you, Paul!

    What’s that? One of the WeHoians who DREAMed this up is a personal trainer? Another one of Reichen’s ex’es, no doubt.

  21. says

    @ WOLF: yes, it is more than marriage—that’s why there was a big brouhaha in the community when ENDA went up w/out the T.

    At the same time, marriage is both a meat and potatoes issue and a very important symbol of equality and respectability. With marriage in hand, we are in a better position to attain equal rights across the board.

    @ MICHAEL BEDWELL: I appreciate your passion but I’m tired of your long, long posts that have few constructive ideas. What EXACTLY are YOU doing that’s helping us and what do you suggest we DO? Posting screeds on TR isn’t enough dear.

    Here are some of the things that I do to promote the well-being of our community:
    1. Board chair of Rainbow Families of Puget Sound
    2. PFLAG Speakers Bureau (~12-16 classes of students per year)
    3. Lobby legislators in our state capitol for marriage equality (ENDA already in place)
    4. Out Big Brother
    5. Donations to Lambda Legal, Amnesty Int’l, etc.
    6. Speaking to “waiting” families as a couple at the adoption agency we used

    I’m not looking for kudos, but offering ideas and suggestions.

  22. Michael Bedwell says

    Bravo for you, David, if I might borrow a word: dear. Your examples are all admirable and worthy of emulating. And without feeling the need to justify my existence with a similar catalog of my own actions, I’m proud to say I’ve been involved in gay activism in one way or another since 1970.

    Along with my wrinkles comes some wisdom to quickly recognize skunk ideas because one has smelled them so many times before. So, though, had you read all of my “long, long” “screeds,” you would find frequent suggestions for things to “do, there are instances when advising others what NOT to do is just as “constructive.”

    In this case because energy poured into the core of these ideas which are not the volunteerism but the fantasy that they could actually get enough people to abandon their job for a day/withdraw money to get noticed will very quickly turn into cynicism when action after action for action’s sake crashes and burns while the straight world yawns. The marvelous movement vet Torie Osborn has recently written of this concern, among other insightful things.

    As you are probably aware, there has been much written and spoken of about the belief of many that a fresh wave of gay activism was born out of the shock of Prop H8TE passing. Indeed, the challenge to long stagnant “leadership” that I’ve been calling for years was initially extremely encouraging. But what quickly filled that vacuum was mostly vacuous, and the ME-Tube generation confusing movement alone with momentum and protest alone with progress. As always happens with the young who think they discovered sex, these viral if vague idealogues imagine they’ve invented insurrection when mostly what they’re creating are ever-widening circle jerks.

    Internet whizzes capable of generating huge buzz proved themselves witless even in their nomenclature. One can’t actually “join” the “impact.” And “Day Without A Gay” doesn’t even qualify as a cute play on words, any more than the first worthless anti H8TE sign which read, “Vow to vote no on Prop 8”—get it? Marriage vows?

    You want specifics? Try this: Everyone, go to work tomorrow—if you have a job. Come out in a nonconfrontational way to at least one coworker who doesn’t officially know. After work, go to a bookstore and purchase, or buy online, a history book that details what did and did not work in the black and Latino civil rights movement and/or one that details what worked in the early post-Stonewall days when “zaps” were popular and/or what worked and didn’t work with ACT UP.

    Those people actually created an IMPACT. They actually changed society. The only change that comes to mind with the current crop of new “leaders” so many are blindly following is changing diapers. And “good intentions” alone have all the value in a world where gays are still killed just for being gay of Enron stock.

  23. says

    Yes, Michael, I’ve been around a while too; I began my activist days in the ’80s. I agree that that the Day Without Gay is misguided and poorly planned (which I failed to mention in my first post, though I thought the point had already been well made).

    My point is that it is easy (and sometimes justified) to tear down other’s attempts at making change. What is harder to do is to make suggestions, take action, and to organize to make change.

    It seems to me that the Prop 8 loss in the context of the Obama win is Big Moment™ for the LGBT movement for equality. Let’s all take advantage of this energy (from the young and old, naïve and experienced alike) with EFFECTIVE protest/action.

    Let’s trade ideas and put something stunning together!