By Erin Yazgan
Where would America be without some of its citizens?
In response to the passing of Proposition 8, the movement Day Without a Gay asks supporters of same-sex marriage to strike from work, boycott businesses, and participate in activist work on Dec. 10. Day Without a Gay, which includes all supporters of same-sex marriage, regardless of sexual orientation, is scheduled on the same day as Human Rights Day.
The Day Without a Gay campaign has estimated that LGBT workers, consumers, business owners and taxpayers contribute about $700 billion to the economy each year, the absence of which would certainly draw attention in an already struggling financial situation. The movement was also modeled after Day Without an Immigrant in May 2006, in which supporters of undocumented immigrants boycotted businesses to demonstrate the extent to which undocumented labor is needed for the U.S. economy.
Sean Hetherington, West Hollywood comedian and founder of Day Without a Gay, started the movement because he was tired of mourning the passing of Proposition 8.
“My boyfriend and I just got tired of feeling bad about it all,” Hetherington said. “We felt really helpless.”
While many believe that Day Without a Gay is about skipping out of work and not buying anything, Hetherington said that the campaign is an opportunity for same-sex marriage supporters to be active by volunteering at an LGBT center or writing a letter to a politician.
“Do what really makes you feel well,” Hetherington said. “Do what gives you purpose. Serve the community that you feel you’re best suited to.”
However, some doubt the influence of such a campaign. Jennifer Miller is a UC Santa Cruz student and Santa Cruz moderator for JoinTheImpact, the nationwide campaign responsible for the Nov. 15 protests. She said that Day Without a Gay does not bring people together in the same fashion as a rally or community event.
“It’s become an individual effort rather than a group effort,” Miller said. “I don’t get the feeling that it’s going to have the impact that people hoped.”
Hetherington has received complaints about the name of the movement, he said. People have criticized it as excluding people who do not identify as “gay,” he said, and said that “Call in gay” makes homosexuality sound like a sickness. Hetherington said this was not the aim.
“We were really just trying to make it as universal as possible, and the word ‘gay’ is representative of homosexuality and the entire movement of LGBTs on a worldwide level,” Hetherington said. “Everyone understands that word for the most part.”
Fourth-year sociology major Bo Doub plans to take part in Day Without a Gay by not buying anything on Dec. 10. While he does not have class or work that day, he is thinking about visiting a local LGBT center to help with the campaign.
“It’s more of an activist, economic approach. It has more strike or boycott connotations, and it seems more radical,” Doub said. “It’s like a direct action to fight for my rights [rather] than just talking to people and yelling my opinions blindly.”
Hetherington has been doing interviews with press across the world and has received a flood of e-mails through the Web site, DayWithoutAGay.org, he said.
“We’re hoping that this is sort of a national singing of YMCA on some level, like a national gay pride parade,” Hetherington said. “The possibilities are really limitless at this point. We had no idea that it would be getting as much attention as it is, so who knows what will happen next week?”
Local LGBT-friendly centers where participants can volunteer include: the No On 8 campaign in the Galleria Shopping Center, suite 205 next to Trader Joe’s; the Diversity Center at 1117 Soquel; and the Lionel Cantú GLBTI Resource Center behind Merrill College.