Tag Archives: Day Without a Gay

Volunteering didn’t hurt; and let’s give ‘Day Without a Gay’ another try

So for “Day Without a Gay” today I volunteered at Sacramento’s local gay and lesbian community center.

Mostly I did data entry for the center, capturing the names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc. of people who had written their contact information on contact information sheets that the center had had people fill out at various events.

One of the center’s staff told me at the end of the day today that I and the others who did data entry completed in one day what otherwise would have taken three months. That was fairly gratifying. They fed me, too.

Anyway, I shouldn’t be shocked, but I am shocked at some of the negative response that I’ve heard to “Day Without a Gay.” The negative response demonstrates how much the almighty dollar is worshipped in the United States and how beholden the American sheeple feel to their employers. Why do we allow our employers to own us? Why don’t we own them? Oh, yeah: because under capitalism, we’re owned, we are the property of our employers. And they said that slavery was dead! Go capitalism!

Seriously, though, people act as though calling off from work were tantamount to murder, and very apparently the looming threat of being fired for calling off from work is enough to keep the sheeple in line.

While the gay and lesbian community center where I volunteered today had dozens of volunteers (I didn’t count, but I estimate that there were at least two or three dozen volunteers there throughout the entire day), apparently on the national level, “Day Without a Gay” was a bit of a dud.

The Associated Press reports today:

A daylong work stoppage during which employees were encouraged to “call in gay” to express support for same-sex marriage drew spotty participation nationwide [today], with some gay rights activists praising the concept but questioning its effect.

In San Francisco‘s gay Castro district, residents and merchants said they endorsed the message behind “Day Without a Gay” but didn’t think a work stoppage was practical given the poor economy and the strike’s organization.

“If we are going to make a huge impact and not be laughed at, then we have to take the time and make the time to communicate with all the parties. We could have shut down a lot of the hotels,” said David Lang, a San Francisco gymnastics coach. “In theory it’s a great idea, but it’s being done wrong and now that it’s been done wrong, I don’t think it will be done again.”

The protest, which a gay couple from West Hollywood organized through the Internet, was designed to demonstrate the economic clout of same-sex marriage supporters following the passage of voter-approved gay marriage bans in California, Arizona and Florida last month.

Participants were asked to refrain from spending money or at least to patronize gay-friendly businesses for the day….

Well, hell, my fellow fags and dykes, can’t we just chalk it up to it being the first waffle? There’s never been such a thing as a “Day Without a Gay”; let’s not panic if the very first one was a bit lackluster. I think it’s worth trying again — yes, next time with better organization and with better getting of the word out.

But there is the stumbling block that many people are too afraid to call off from work or even to ask for the day off (perhaps especially if they are in the closet). Face it: Employers have us whipped.

And let’s face this, too: The art of protest is on life support in the United States of Amnesia. No later than during the Clinton years, Americans became fat and lazy and complacent and fairly unmovable.

Our protest muscles didn’t become so flabby overnight; we won’t get them back into shape overnight, but if we keep it up we can make some progress.

However, we don’t have to rely on formal events to create change. More important than such single events as “Day Without a Gay,” we gay men and lesbians should be out of the closet as much as we can in our daily lives. It’s an every-day thing. People are less likely to be homophobic if they know that they know some gay men and lesbians.

Make every day your own little private protest.

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I’m a media whore.

I had a short telephone interview with a reporter from the Sacramento Bee today. She was doing a story on tomorrow’s “Day Without a Gay.”

Sacramento’s gay and lesbian community center, where I’m volunteering tomorrow (yes, I almost always end up caving in and doing the right thing…), was contacted by the reporter, and with my permission the center gave the reporter my contact info.

Her story, which captures our phone interview fairly well, is below; you will note that she saved her best material for last. (Hee hee hee…)

Dozens of Sacramentans plan to miss work, ‘call in gay’ Wednesday

By Jennifer Garza

Kris Applegate, who is gay, will not be at his job as a legislative analyst Wednesday. Instead, he will volunteer at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center.

Applegate is joining dozens of others in the Sacramento region who are “calling in gay” to their place of employment as a way of highlighting the visibility of gays in the area.

“We’re everywhere — we work for the state, we’re accountants, we’re lawyers, nurses and doctors, we’re in the cubicle next to you,” said Applegate, 30. “Hopefully, this will show the role we play in the community.”

The national “Day Without A Gay” event was modeled after a similar effort by Latinos to recognize their value in American society. It was spurred by the passage of Proposition 8, the Nov. 4 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

Participants will skip work to volunteer at nonprofits. A post-Prop 8 town hall meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Sierra II Center in Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood.

The Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center in midtown expects about 30 volunteers will do everything from data entry to building maintenance.

“We had so many calls that we had to make sure there’s enough work for them to do,” said Bonnie Osborn, the center’s communications director. “A lot of the people we’re hearing from have never volunteered here before. But since Prop 8, they’re motivated.”

This is Applegate’s first time as a volunteer at the center. Applegate, who is taking a vacation day from work, told his boss in advance that he would not be in the office Wednesday.

“Out of respect for my employers, I didn’t want to blindside them,” said Applegate. “They were very supportive.”

Robert Crook also told his employer in advance that he is taking a vacation day in honor of “Day Without A Gay.”

“I’m doing it out of solidarity,” said Crook, who works for the state. “If there are a lot of empty chairs in the office — and I hope there are — then that will really make a statement.”

Critics have said that missing work is not a good idea, given the worsening economy.

Crook understands that some people will not be able to “call in gay” but says the economy should not be the reason.

“For some people, it’s tantamount to coming out and they might not be comfortable with that and I understand,” said Crook. “But this is a human and civil rights issue, and to me, it’s more important than the economy.”

A few comments on the news story: The headline says that “dozens” will “call in gay” tomorrow, but that’s just the number of people the reporter was made aware of through her contact at the Sacramento Gay and Lesbian Center. No one can really know how many gay men and lesbians in my city of Sacramento and the surrounding region actually will “call in gay” tomorrow; the reporter and I discussed that fact, in fact. My best guess is that it will be in the hundreds.

And speaking of “calling in gay,” note that both I and the other gay man interviewed for the news story requested the time off and are using vacation time that we earned. I surmise that few people are really going to “call in gay” (call in sick, that is) and that most of them responsibly have pre-arranged their absence, as I did.

Finally, if  you want to see what we gay men and lesbians are up against, read the vicious comments that visitors to sacbee.com have left on this news story by clicking here.*

Under the cover of complete anonymity (of course), these courageous haters spew forth venomous hatred that once was reserved for blacks.

It’s true: Gay is the new black!

*Sacbee.com has a system where you can report comments as hate speech or obscenity/vulgarity, and I’m reporting the hate speech as hate speech and the obscenity/vulgarity as obscenity/vulgarity, so by the time you click that link, a good number of the comments that I was talking about might since have disappeared…

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Wednesday is ‘Day Without a Gay’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Associated Press today ran this article on “Day Without a Gay,” which is Wednesday:

Some same-sex marriage supporters are urging people to “call in gay” Wednesday to show how much the country relies on gays and lesbians, but others question whether it’s wise to encourage skipping work given the nation’s economic distress.

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 [California] 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.

“We are all for a boycott if that is what brings about a sense of community for people,” said Hetherington, 30, who plans to spend Wednesday volunteering at an inner-city school. “You can take away from the economy and give back in other ways.”

Hetherington said he’s been getting 100 e-mails an hour from people looking for volunteer opportunities, and that his “Day Without a Gay” Web site has gotten 100,000 hits since mid-November.

Despite Hartzler and Hetherington’s attempt to fashion a positive approach, some organizers of the street demonstrations that drew massive crowds in many cities last month have been reluctant to embrace the concept, saying that it could be at best impractical and at worst counterproductive to “call in gay.”

“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,” said Jules Graves, 38, coordinator of the Colorado Queer Straight Alliance. “There is really not any assurance employers would appreciate it for what it is.”

Graves’ group nonetheless is arranging for interested participants to volunteer at the local African Community Center in Denver. The agency said it could find projects to keep 20 people busy, but so far only 10 have pledged to show up, said Graves.

Scott Craig, a fifth-grade teacher at Independence Charter School in Philadelphia, had no problem requesting and being granted the day off. So many of the school’s 60 teachers were eager to show support for gay rights they had to make sure enough stayed behind to staff classrooms.

About 25 teachers plan to take Wednesday off and to have their work covered by substitutes while they discuss ways to introduce gay issues to their students and volunteer at the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Craig said. A letter telling parents why so many teachers would be out went home [today].

“We want to get the conversation going in the community that gay is not bad,” Craig said. “For kids to hear that in a positive light can be life-changing.”

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.

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.

“Our community leaders who are running book stores, newspapers, flower shops, coffee houses, bars and many, many other things are hurting right now, so paying attention to their needs during this hard time is an effective form of activism,” he said.

Hetherington said he has been careful to design A Day Without a Gay — he came up with the name after the film “A Day Without a Mexican” and liked it because it rhymed — so no one feels excluded or threatened.

He has specifically urged high school students not to walk out of their classes and assured college students they won’t be disloyal to the cause if they go ahead and take their final exams.

He also has listed opportunities — ranging from writing letters to members of Congress about federal gay rights legislation to spreading the word about Wednesday on social networking sites — for gay marriage backers who cannot miss work.

You know, there are some things that are more important than money — capitalism, consumerism and materialism, certainly not Christianity, are the dominant religion of the United States — so concerns that capitalism might be damaged by “Day Without a Gay” (gasp!) fall upon my deaf ears. I’ll put human rights over the almighty dollar any time.

We Americans slavishly worship the golden calf, and capitalism, consumerism and materialism have been deleterious to gay men and lesbians, who long ago ceased being a human rights movement* and have become just another target group for marketers. Yet so many gay and lesbian “leaders” are terrified of the appearance that their flocks aren’t dutifully worshipping the golden calf along with straight sheeple. Our “leaders” are leading us black sheep right over the cliff along with the straight sheeple. Assimilation not only sucks, but it harms and it even kills.

I just heard about Join The Impact’s suggestion that we fags and dykes all withdraw $80 on Wednesday when I read the AP article above, so I don’t think that the word on that campaign has become very widespread, so I don’t think that it’s going to have much of an, um, impact.

And it’s not like that $80 wouldn’t get spent within a few days anyway, so what, really, would be impact of that campaign? I’m confused as to what actually could have been accomplished…

Of course, participation in “Day Without a Gay” — the “calling in gay” part of it, I mean — has to be an individual choice, and no one should be pressured into participating. Not everyone can call off from work (or school) without repercussions, especially in the “right-to-work”/anti-employee, pro-employer/red states, and, while in general I detest closet cases, if someone might truly face hardships if he or she were to come out of the closet, then who am I to tell him or her to come out if I don’t have to experience the potential negative consequences of that?

But those gay men and lesbians who can “call in gay” on Wednesday should do so as an act of and a demonstration of solidarity.

I don’t know that it’s really necessary for gay men and lesbians who “call in gay” to volunteer anywhere on “Day Without a Gay.” Why can’t we just stay home and chill? Isn’t our absence from our workplaces supposed to demonstrate our value and our worth? Why do we have to demonstrate or prove our value and worth by working as volunteers?

Is volunteering from a space of guilt such a great thing? And is it all that fair to volunteer for just a day anyway? If one is going to volunteer, shouldn’t one do so regularly?

I work at a gay-friendly workplace and I requested and I have been given Wednesday off. (I know that many people don’t have it that easy.)

I might volunteer at my local gay and lesbian community center on Wednesday, but I don’t feel obligated to.

It doesn’t really matter what I do on Wednesday; the point is that my chair at work will be empty all day.

*To gay men and lesbians’ credit, the passage of the odious Prop 8 has fired them up, but it’s too bad that it took the elimination of our rights by the “Christo”fascists for us to come out of our capitalism-induced coma and fight our oppressors for our equal, human and civil rights.

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Film review: “Milk”

Sean Penn (center) and Diego Luna (far right) in Gus Van Sant’s film about slain 1970s gay-rights icon Harvey Milk, which evil, liberal Hollywood is going to award some Oscars.

I remember when I used to see containers of homogenized milk labeled as “homo milk” and jokingly thinking: Gee! They make milk just for people like me!

OK, I got that out of the way, so now I can proceed to write about Gus Van Sant’s “Milk”:

Wow. What a film.

Usually when they hype a film I’m disappointed when I see it, but “Milk” — which I saw today with my closest female friend (and lately I’ve been dragging her to so many gay-related things that I’m thinking that she and I need to go to a monster truck rally very soon in order to balance it out) — exceeded my expectations.

There’s a little bit of sappiness in “Milk,” especially at the end, but in “Milk” gay-rights-movement icon Harvey Milk is portrayed as a hard-nosed politician who even manipulated — hell, who even more or less manufactured — events for political gain more than he is portrayed as a martyred saint.

I haven’t read the late gay journalist Randy Shilts’ biography of Milk, The Mayor of Castro Street, a copy of which I’ve had for years and years, but in “Milk,” Harvey is portrayed as having apparently betrayed his eventual assassin, fellow San Francisco Supervisor Dan White, after they had agreed to help each other win what the other wanted on the city’s board of supervisors (which is the equivalent of a typical city council).

In “Milk” Harvey Milk is portrayed as having gotten at least a bit drunk on power (after he finally won an election), such as in the scene in which he threatens the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone that if Moscone doesn’t do what Milk wants him to do, Moscone will lose the support of the gay community, spelling the end of Moscone’s political career. Harvey played hardball, if “Milk” is historically accurate.

Oh, hell, I’ll just come out (so to speak…) and say it: “Milk” isn’t too shy to portray the possibility that Milk contributed to his own murder by having antagonized, unnecessarily, his nemesis White.

Not that White had to resort to murder, but he was pushed, if “Milk” is historically accurate. Milk had gotten what he wanted — a gay-rights city ordinance passed — by an overwhelming vote of the board of supervisors, so there was no reason, that I can tell, that it would have harmed Milk, politically, to have stayed out of the issue of whether White should have been allowed to return to the board of supervisors after he had resigned, citing his too-low salary as the reason. 

I congratulate Van Sant’s “Milk” for portraying Harvey Milk as a flawed hero. Power corrupts even the best of us.

I found “Milk” inspiring — I probably finally will read Shilts’ biography of Milk, and I probably will volunteer at my local gay and lesbian community center on “Day Without a Gay” on Wednesday — and it moved me to tears more than once or twice during its two-hour run, and it’s not many movies that can induce me to shed a tear.

It’s too bad that “Milk,” with its rather extensive portrayal of the defeat of the odious anti-gay Proposition 6, was released after the narrow passage of the odious anti-gay Proposition 8 last month, but, I suppose, better late than never. “Milk” can only help the campaign to overturn Prop 8, and since the wingnuts, who are utterly lacking in talent and brains, can’t make a film that anyone would want to see, they have no answer. 

“Milk” is going to be to the gay community what “Brokeback Mountain” was, but while “Brokeback” only indirectly tackles the issue of gay rights, “Milk” tackles the subject head on, and does it with the star power of Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Josh Brolin as Dan White, and James Franco as Milk’s long-time love Scott Smith.

Poor Sean Penn probably will get a best-actor Oscar, and that all he had to do was kiss the gorgeous James Franco to get it. I hate Sean Penn! No, but seriously, Penn did a kick-ass job as Milk, and Franco did a great job, too; the actors’ intimate interactions are quite convincing as two men who love and who are in love with each other.

Josh Brolin turned in another of his usually reliable performances (I didn’t like “No Country for Old Men” overall, but I liked Brolin’s performance in it), playing a Dan White who seems, with his obsession over homosexuality, possibly to be a closet case and who is more of a sympathetic character in “Milk” than you would have expected him to be.

Diego Luna did a great job as Jack Lira, Milk’s spitfire Latino lover who came after Milk and Scott Smith split up. Just as the real-life Lira apparently got second billing to Smith, so, it seems, Luna’s great performance as Milk’s passionate and unstable lover Lira is getting second billing to Franco’s performance. (Just don’t do anything crazy, Diego!)

Emile Hirsch as young activist Cleve Jones is getting rave reviews, but I think that Luna worked harder. Hirsch is best in the scene in which he and Milk first meet, but Luna’s role, it seems to me, was more demanding.

Like “Brokeback Mountain” was nominated for several Oscars, expect “Milk” to be nominated for several Oscars, too — and expect the wingnut motherfuckers to bitch and moan once again about how liberal Hollywood loves to give Oscars to movies about fags.

I expect an Oscar win for Penn and for director Van Sant, whose departure from his often-eccentric cinematic style (“My Own Private Idaho,” “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,” and “Elephant” come to mind) seems to have been done with a best-director Oscar in mind. “Milk” just might win best picture, too, which would nice after the passage of Proposition Hate — er, 8.

My grade: A

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Day Without a Gay

Day Without A Gay

Oh, yeah, baby.

Web site here.

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