Day raises awareness to show value of gays

Gays, lesbians and straight allies nationwide called in “gay” Wednesday to volunteer in their local Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual & Transgender communities and protest passage of anti-gay constitutional amendments in Arizona, Florida, Arkansas and California.

The movement called “A Day Without a Gay” coincided with International Human Rights Day and encouraged people to not go to work by calling in “gay.” It also promoted closing businesses, boycotting the economy by refraining from shopping and instead, participating in volunteer work, according to the Web site

Sophomore Josh Riedel supported the action but only boycotted the economy because of finals, he said. Riedel said that he did not think that the action would cause a big impact in Eau Claire, but would in bigger cities where there is a bigger gay population.

“I hope that it draws people’s attention to the civil rights going on,” Riedel said.

Sean Hetherington of Hollywood and his boyfriend Aaron Hartzler launched the in response to Proposition 8, Hetherington said.

“It’s very hippie,” he said.

Hetherington said that he had heard about a boycott being planned but wanted to put a more positive spin on it by creating and highlighting the volunteer work. He said he wanted to “paint the gay community in a better way, which is loving and compassionate.”

David Craig, a 44-year-old gay film producer from Los Angeles, has been promoting Day Without a Gay through Facebook. Craig said that he also launched the Facebook event the day after Proposition 8 passed in California. He said he found close to 10 other people, including Hetherington and Hartzler, doing similar things through the Internet and got in touch with them. They banned together, Craig said, to create the event though they had never previously met.

“We’re all kindred spirits . it’s all happening spontaneously,” Craig said.

Craig also said that they were taking “cues” from other civil rights movements.

Sophomore Samuel Chambliss said he supported “A Day Without Gays” because he wants to promote understanding of the LGBT community.

“They shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their sexuality or their practices,” Chambliss said.

Though the marketing major supported the event, he did not call in “gay.”

Both Riedel and Chambliss said they became aware of the action via Facebook.

Sophomore Paul Williams, president of The Spectrum and double majoring in special education and Spanish, said that he thought the idea and intentions behind Day Without a Gay were good, but it would be hard to make a social impact. He said The Spectrum was not doing anything collectively for the event because of mixed feelings within the group.