‘Day Without A Gay’ action to highlight economic, human contributions

Today, gays across Colorado woke up and … called in gay. They will not work, they will not shop, but instead plan to volunteer at their local soup kitchens or collect donations for food banks or signatures for a petition to repeal Proposition 8 in California.

Day Without A Gay, which coincides with International Human Rights Day, is being promoted by gay pride groups in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, and is part of a national effort, called Join the Impact. The action follows Prop. 8’s passage last month, as well as other anti-gay measures passed in three other states.

“We’ve reacted to anti-gay ballot initiatives in California, Arizona Florida, and Arkansas with anger and protests,” says Carlos Martinez, executive director of Denver’s GLBT Community Center. “Now, it’s time to show America and the world how we love and serve our communities.”

It is unknown how many people are expected to participate in Wednesday’s action, but organizers say the LGBT community wants to emphasize a renewed focus on giving back — and to highlight their presence by their absence from the workplace and the marketplace.

From the national Web site:

“Our community contributes $700 billion a year to this economy (the same amount as the bailout), yet we are not given equal protections under the law that every citizen deserves. As such, it is time we make a stand. During the largest shopping season of the year, we ask that you do one very important thing: Don’t Buy Anything! What would happen to this world if the LGBTQ community didn’t exist? Why is it that we continue to contribute to an economy and government that does not contribute to us? Let’s answer these questions on December 10th.”

Gays and their straight allies are urged to spend a full 24 hours without TV, Internet or cell phones, and not to make any purchases.

“Do not go get your morning latte,” is one of the “Top 10 Tips” advertised on the group’s Web site.

In Colorado Springs, a Day Without a Gay rally is scheduled at City Hall downtown from noon to 2 p.m. Rev. Wes Mullins of the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church says many will spend the rest of the day collecting food for Care and Share Food Bank, which has scrambled to meet continually growing demands for several years.

“Polls show that when people know gays and lesbians, it changes the way they vote,” Mullins says. “Part of this is raising awareness that we care about our communities.”

During the fall campaign, the gay congregation from the Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church took up a collection, an effort they called “Change for No Change” to fight California’s Prop. 8. The effort was largely symbolic — in all the small congregation delivered less than $100.

But the gesture was tremendous to Fred Karger, one of the leading organizers battling Prop. 8 who was visiting Colorado Springs at the time. By contrast, the Springs-based Focus on the Family had donated nearly $540,000 in cash and another $83,000 in non-monetary support to push the California measure to strip gays of the right to marry each other.

“Here was this struggling little church, standing in stark contrast with Focus on the Family and their $600,000, doing what they could to help out. It was just as gratifying as anything,” Karger says.

The Dec. 10 national Day Without a Gay will likely be followed by additional actions, including in Colorado. “The sense that I get is this is not stopping soon,” Mullins says.

In late November, for example, gays and their allies — including Colorado’s first openly gay member of Congress, Rep.-elect Jared Polis — staged a boycott and protest at the Century Boulder Theater, which is showing the film “Milk.” The film is based on the story of Harvey Milk, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and a pioneer in the gay-rights movement who was gunned down in 1978. The theater company owner’s CEO, Alan Stock, donated $9,999 to California’s Yes On 8 campaign.

On Dec. 20, the national organization is planning another coordinated demonstration, called Light up the Night For Equality, during which gays and their allies will hold candlelight vigils at commercial centers across the country.

10 tips from the national organizers of Day Without a Gay, posted several weeks ago, for what to do on Dec. 10:

• Wake up for work on Wednesday December 10th… and call in GAY.
• Go to the bank and take $80 out of your account… put it in your pocket and KEEP IT THERE.
• Do not go get your morning latte
• Do not purchase anything
• Do not contribute to advertising revenue: Meaning, spend 24 hours of your life without TV & Internet
• Do not use your cell phone, even if you have unlimited minutes
• Instead, DO volunteer. Give to the community and reach out to those that don’t understand our community. Check your state page for local volunteer opportunities.
• If you must spend, only do so at an LGBTQ owned establishment with an LGBTQ clientel
• You have weeks to prepare, so go grocery shopping now.
• VOLUNTEER. We are fighting for human rights, so let’s take a day to fight for the rights of those in need. Check your state page for local volunteer opportunities.

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Cara Degette

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