In honor of
International Human Rights Day, December 10, the nationwide
response to California's passing of Prop. 8 and
antigay ballot measures in Arizona, Florida, and
Arkansas kicks into high gear with Day
Without a Gay, a day on which LGBT people are
urged to call in "gay" to work and use that
time for community outreach.
stand-up comic and personal trainer Sean Hetherington and
his 33-year-old actor-writer boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler,
organized the Day Without a Gay after seeing the
massive presence at protests and rallies following
Election Day. With a tip of the hat to groups like Join
the Impact -- whose 26-year-old mastermind
managed to organize protests in all 50 states on the
strength of a social-networking campaign -- Hetherington
positions Day Without a Gay as an opportunity to show the
world how we love through volunteer efforts -- because
"a day without a gay would be a day without
Kyle Buchanan is
one of many people who plan to "call in gay" -- but
rather than spending his day at home catching up on TiVo,
Buchanan is volunteering with Actual Action,
a group he started with four of his friends.
Actual Action is spending Wednesday, December 10,
working in conjunction with the Riverside County Parks
department, painting and cleaning Fairmont Park.
"Obviously, we've all seen the great
outpouring from the community in the wake of Prop. 8
with the rallies and marches," Buchanan says.
"I have a feeling those are sort of peaking,
and we want to give people actual next steps -- actual
actions that they can do."
Buchanan says the
group chose to spend the Day Without a Gay volunteering
in Riverside as a way to "go out there and be
visible" while addressing a lot of the issues
that went into the passing of Prop. 8.
voters passed Prop. 8 by a margin of close to 30 points.
to go in and be positive and introduce ourselves and put
human faces on the people that this equal rights
battle is about," he says.
In the aftermath
of Prop. 8, many gay rights supporters have been looking
for a place to lay blame -- one popular explanation suggests
the organizers of the No on 8 campaign failed to
conduct appropriate outreach to traditionally
conservative voting communities throughout California.
in the days following the passing of Prop. 8, DayWithoutAGay.org's message
board has been flooded by nonprofit organizations
posting volunteer opportunities on December 10
and beyond. Some volunteer efforts are rooted in the gay
community -- gay youth alliances and LGBT alcohol-dependency
programs are among the outreach opportunities that
appear in multiple states -- while others range from
volunteer work with the American Cancer Society to
neighborhood-based efforts like the Riverside parks project.
Though some have
likened the Day Without a Gay efforts to LGBT
people essentially disappearing for the day,
Hetherington stresses that seeing gays and
lesbians come out in droves for volunteer efforts
is a more effective approach.
time someone holds up a soup ladle at a homeless shelter on
December 10, we hope a camera catches it for the news, and
we hope that those images help change the hearts and
minds of people on the fence about the LGBT
community," Hetherington says.
The Day Without a
Gay website also offers tips for people who want to
participate but can't call in "gay" for fear of
losing their jobs. Only 20 states and the
District of Columbia have employment nondiscrimination
laws that include protections on the basis of sexual
Actual Action will continue to announce outreach efforts
through website and Facebook pages beyond the Day Without a
- How do you plan to spend your Day Without a Gay?
Let us know with your comments below.