New grassroots gay activists are striking
again. Today's Day Without A Gay workstoppage protest is just
another example of their newly found power.
The protest asks gays and lesbians to
call off work and attend marches and rallies or do volunteer work
While the new gay activism sprung forth
nearly fully formed to protest the passage of Proposition 8 – the
California constitutional amendment approved by a slim majority of
voters on Nov. 4 that restricts marriage to heterosexual partners –
it appears to have mushroomed into a broader expression of gay
rights, not simply the right to gay marry.
The new gay activists have managed to
tap the Prop 8 outrage and sculpt it into sizeable pro-gay displays,
all the while rejecting traditional suit-and-tie gay activists and
their passive checkbook activism.
Not all owners of gay businesses in the
Castro, San Francisco's vibrant gay district, are behind the idea.
Several said the boycott was impractical and counterproductive with
the economy in a tailspin.
But organizers say that's just the meat
of the theatre – to highlight the economic benefit gays and
lesbians bring to the table.
Sean Hetherington, a 30-something
stand-up comedian from West Hollywood, California, coined the phrase
Day Without A Gay. He's urging protesters to use the time off
to do volunteer work.
“We didn't want this to be another
white powder sent to the Mormon temple,” Hetherington told the Los
Angeles Times, referring to widely criticized mailings sent to
the church when emotions over the loss of Prop 8 were still running
high. (The white powder turned out to be nontoxic.)
Hetherington says he hopes the protest
he helped bring about will be viewed as “doing something positive.”
The epicenter of today's events is
located in San Francisco where no fewer than three marches and
rallies, including one directly in the Castro, are set to cap off the
“There is a lot of both anger and
activism that is coming out of voters eliminating people's rights,”
said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, who
welcomed the new activists.
“The more people talk about the issue
... the more we advance our rights,” he said.
Evan Wolfson, executive director of
Freedom to Marry, agreed.
“Leaders of established organizations
who resist welcoming new energy, new creativity, new involvement make
a mistake,” Wolfson said in a statement. “We need more people
speaking to more people ... It is conversations – person to person,
group to group – over time that creates the needed climate for true
social and legal change for justice.”
The new gay activism is showing no
signs of cooling off nearly five weeks after Election Day. Day
Without A Gay is only the latest example of this.