The concept was simple and straightforward: Much like the Day Without an Immigrant march and strike of 2006, Wednesday, December 10, was supposed to be a Day Without a Gay. Nationwide, gays and lesbians were to call in "gay" to work in response to the four antigay measures voters passed on Election Day, including California's Prop. 8.
By most accounts, it failed.
DayWithoutAGay.org called for volunteer efforts in lieu of going to work -- something groups like Actual Action did at Fairmont Park in Riverside County, Calif. The group spent four hours participating in beautification projects at the park, in a county where 65% of voters supported the ban on same-sex marriage. Fairmont plays host to weddings and quinceaneras through the year; Actual Action's message to locals was "We want the same things that you do," said organizer Kyle Buchanan, who also writes for The Advocate.
Across the state, papers reported that gay business owners were hesitant to close their doors during these difficult economic times.
A Castro Street store owner told the San Francisco Chronicle that he wished gays and allies were encouraged to patronize gay-owned businesses.
"Our rights have been taken away as much as anyone else's," Rich Boutell said in the article. "The whole purpose should be to support your own, not to boycott. If you're going to have a protest, it should be a positive thing. The gay dollar is powerful."
West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce chief executive Sharon Sandow said that in this economy, telling people not to spend money is a dangerous move.
"It's not the best time to shut down a business. I would rather see people get out there and shop, particularly those businesses that were No on 8 supporters," she told the Los Angeles Times.
Downtown Los Angeles-based blogger Rich Alossi has championed the rallies and protests that have followed the passing of Prop. 8, but he wasn't as gung-ho about Day Without a Gay.
"The goal [of Day Without a Gay] wasn't clearly defined," Alossi said. "It was loosely organized via socially networking. There is no essential 'gay radio,' with leadership taking charge and organizing [as was the case with Day Without an Immigrant, which was heavily promoted via Spanish-language radio stations]. I think some of the anger from Prop. 8's passage has moved to long-term goals now, so that may have affected it."
Alossi also wondered about the staging of the Day Without a Gay event nearly six weeks after Prop. 8's passage.
"Had it been held on November 10 it would have captured that anger," he said. "Our leadership has completely squandered the gay anger. We're in danger of becoming complacent again."
Alossi says he's set his sights on long-term goals and planning. Groups like Equal Roots Coalition have already kicked plans into high gear for the next step in the gay civil rights movement.
Last weekend some 300 people showed up to West Hollywood's Plummer Park to talk about the No on 8 campaign's shortcomings -- and where the movement should go from here. They plan to meet again on Monday, December 15, and regularly thereafter as the fight for marriage equality continues.
"In California we have to have an every-county strategy," Sylvia Rhue, director of religious affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition, said at the meeting. "About a third [of voters] will never be on our side. But we didn't do enough for the movable middle."
Still, the sentiment shared by all seemed to be one of support for the protests, rallies, and organized events that followed the events of Election Day.
"You've made an old dyke's heart really happy," said 81-year-old Ivy Bottini, applauding the protests that burst out after Election Day. "They've had to deal with real, passionate people in the streets, not just TV."
- Anne Stockwell contributed to this report.