Another Action in Austin for LGBT Rights

December 10, 2008

Austin Rally 12.10.08

As many of you know, yesterday was Day Without A Gay — a national day of awareness for LGBT equality. Atticus Circle jumped into the mix of organizers. We especially liked that the day was built around the idea of what individuals could do to reach out to the community.

I spent most of the day fielding phone calls from the media. Atticus Circle posted a letter writing campaign on the Day Without A Gay website, encouraging gay and straight supporters of LGBT equality alike to write letters to straight friends encouraging them to stand up and support the cause. In many areas across the country, we were the only action listed, so a number of journalists called to ask me about the success of our campaign.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for us to tally all those who participated; however, we do know that over 200 people reached out to Atticus Circle because they received a letter from a friend urging them to sign up on our website.

People who opted to take the day off from their jobs as part of the national “Day Without a Gay” were encouraged to perform community service, and charitable organizations across the country reported that volunteers did indeed show up. In Austin, volunteers were encouraged to help out over at Out Youth.

Over 100 people gathered at Austin City Hall last night to rally around Day Without A Gay. The rally culminated the day in a collective way, and provided an opportunity to include people who could not, for whatever reason, “call in gay.”

Our first speaker, Meredith Bagley, Ph.D from University of Texas at Austin, referred to the Harvey Milk movie. Did you know that Milk earned $1.4 million from only 36 theatres in its limited release? It made the top ten box office list on its opening weekend.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that this highly acclaimed film has taken on a new significance after the passage of Proposition 8. Activists called on Focus Features to pull the film from the Cinemark Theatres chain as part of a series of boycotts, because Cinemark’s chief executive, Alan Stock, donated $9,999 to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Bagley noted that is just one example of how gay and ally activists can have an impact on the economy. The impetus behind Day Without a Gay, after all, was to help illustrate the impact that LBGT Americans have on the national economy. The encouragement to “call in gay,” however, was tempered with the warning that not everyone could call in gay because of discrimination that still exist in a number of arenas.

A special thanks to all those who participated in Day Without A Gay. Grassroots actions empower more people to take a stand for equality. As we’ve seen with Join the Impact — and now with Day Without A Gay — people are talking more and more about these issues because of the energy being created. Different actions appeal to different groups of people, and because of the grassroots efforts of these actions, local organizers have been able to reach out to people in diverse and effective ways. Obviously, there’s still much work to be done, but Day Without a Gay showed me just how many people are willing to stand up for LGBT equality.

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Getting Ready for Day Without a Gay Rally

December 9, 2008

I just heard from some of the other organizers of tomorrow’s rally at Austin City Hall, to cap off Day Without a Gay activities, and we have some great speakers lined up. One of my colleagues from Soulforce, who married in California recently, will be talking about her experience, the executive director of Equality Texas (which does great work) will be speaking, and we’ve even got a rugby player from our own Austin Valkyries appearing. I’ll be speaking too, sharing news of our letter writing campaign, where we’ve encouraged gay and straight supporters of GLBT equality to write a letter to a straight friend, asking him or her to stand with us in support of gay rights.

Remember, since the concept behind Day Without A Gay is to take time out to serve the community, we’re asking that everyone who attend the rally bring canned and non-perishable food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. And if you are able to call in “gay” from work and can spend the whole day in service to the community, there are suggestions available on the Day Without a Gay website.

If you’re in Austin, we’d love to see you at City Hall at 5:30 p.m.