Since we first mentioned it back in November as one of the better protest ideas that netroots activists have come up with, “Day Without a Gay“, which asks gays and lesbians to donate their time tomorrow to a gay or lesbian charity, has gone mainstream, attracting the attention of the world’s press.
The idea has changed a bit as well. While the original organizers, Sean Hetherington and David Craig, focused on using the day to help out your community, the event now has many, many planners, spearheaded by Join the Impact, who are now also urging gays and lesbians to not buy anything tomorrow, strike, protest or just simply take the day off. This smorgasbord of civil actions has resulted in the group losing its focus and, as we pointed out when the idea first came about, the one thing that we didn’t like was the idea that gays and lesbians will just use the event as an excuse to stay home and watch Oprah.
To be fair, organizers are also telling people not to use their television, cell phones (“even if you have an unlimited call plan” they tell us) or Internet. This is silly. Why? Because nobody will notice. It will have zero impact on cable companies, who don’t bill you on a daily basis or monitor your television usage, and telecom companies, for the same reasons. By focusing the event on trying to cause a financial impact through inaction as opposed to making it an event about actual action, like volunteering or holding rallies, we’ve given the blowhards at Fox News an easy opportunity to say “Look, all the gays dissapeared and nobody noticed!” They’re going to say it anyway, I’m sure, but we shouldn’t make it easy for them.
This is the double-edged sword of grassroots activism. When nobody owns an idea, it can mutate and change. Sometimes the mutations lead to better ideas, sometimes to worse. For instance, many cities will also be holding rallies tomorrow after work, so that those who can’t afford to take the day off can participate and make their voices heard.
In San Francisco, the day will be marked by a 6 p.m. rally and march in the Mission District. But local organizers say they don’t expect all Prop. 8 opponents to “call in gay” and instead spend the day doing volunteer work, as some proponents urge. For instance, in San Francisco one rally organizer explains:
“I’d like to take the whole day off myself, but it’s not possible,” said Ryan Rudnick, a pre-school teacher who also helped organize a Nov. 15 rally outside City Hall that attracted an estimated 7,500 supporters of same-sex marriage. “That’s why we wanted to hold a rally and march in the evening, to show our support.”
So, we’re really interested in what your plans are for ‘Day Without a Gay’. Are you calling in gay? Planning to protest? Volunteering? Nothing at all?