A gay day off

Striking Out
By SARA FAITH ALTERMAN  |  December 9, 2008

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A day without gays. Sounds like a Christian Right wet-dream come true, but it's actually the idea behind a 24-hour nationwide strike and economic boycott in support of gay marriage for all Americans.

On December 10 — International Human Rights Day — gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and their straight allies are encouraged to turn off their computers, shut down their businesses, and call in "gay" from work. Additionally, participants are asked to refrain from making purchases or spending money in any way, so as not to contribute to the economy. (Yes, the economy is about as stable as radioactive decay, but a single day of fiscal cockblocking isn't likely to plunge us further into collective financial distress. It's about making a political statement, not screwing the entire country out of fistfuls of Benjamins.)

In the wake of the Election Day Prop 8 debacle, and the subsequent worldwide protests over the yanking of marriage rights from under the feet of LGBT West Coasters, "A Day Without Gays" organizer Sean Hetherington is hoping that the efforts behind his strike/boycott will exhibit a blanketed stance against homophobic legislation, and anti-gay attitudes in general.

Instead of just reveling in a gay day off, Hetherington, a stand-up comedian and personal trainer who conceived of the protest day with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, is urging supporters to participate in charity and volunteer work on December 10.

"When people stay home from work and don't spend money, like it's a gay Yom Kippur, that's sitting in gay shame," he says. "We thought, what if we show America how much service gay people can provide and we re-mobilize our community though volunteer work and service?"

You might be thinking: "But, I'm not gay! I don't even know any gay people besides Ellen!" or "I can't call out of work! I'm saving my sick time for that long weekend getaway to the Catskills! Surely the gays don't expect me to give up the Catskills!"

All fine, and taken into consideration. You can still participate by contacting your state representatives to express support for gay marriage, help organize local volunteer opportunities, or simply spread the word.

For a list of area volunteer opportunities, and more information about the initiative, visit daywithoutagay.org.

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