Middle Tennesseans react to Day Without A Gay

By Alexandra Gury
Staff writer

The gay civil rights movement has garnered national attention in past months with hundreds of thousands of people across the nation peacefully protesting the passing of California's Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage in the state.

As the next event in the movement, organizers are planning Day Without A Gay and are asking the GLBT community and their allies to call in to work gay, not sick, on Dec. 10, and devote their time that day by volunteering at local GLBT centers to show the power and importance of the community.

Taking place on International Human Rights Day, A Day Without a Gay is intended to illustrate that “a day without a gay is a day without love” according to daywithoutagay.org. 

Opinion about the event varies throughout middle Tennessee.

Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project, said the protest will only prove successful if those participating use their time effectively to speak out.

“If you're not going to work that day, use it to visit the district office of your member of Congress, or your State legislators, or member of Metro Council," Sanders said. "Talk about the issues that are important to you.”

He said participants should speak to those who have the power to make change.

Local business owners and straight allies Kara and Kevin Christian are rallying in support of A Day Without A Gay.  The couple, who opened the doors of Sky Blue, an East Nashville cafe, just five months ago, won't be opening their business on Dec. 10 in honor of Day Without A Gay - even at the risk of alienating some of their more conservative customers.

“We do so for Chris Burke and Toby Gilbert, our best friends and employees, who create joy and laughter, peace and hope for everyone who has the privilege to cross their path," said Kevin Christian.

The couple believes strongly that gay rights issues needs to be regarded as a human rights issue. 

"We should all be afraid,” said Kara Christian of the injustice taking place against the gay community.  That is why the couple is standing in solidarity with the GLBT community. They plan to spend the day volunteering with their staff in an effort to show love and bring hope that change will come.

Many GLBT members of the workforce are speaking out in support of the day as a progressive movement that will effectively convey the message that members of the GLBT community represent an invaluable portion of the American workforce. 

Evan Woodson, who works at a popular Nashville staffing agency, said he strongly supports the protest.

“I have always tried to be a strong voice in the standing of the gay community, supporting marriage, adoption, and respect as American citizens, so I appreciate these types of events” Woodson said.  And he is not alone.

Clarissa Marino, who works at a national television network also plans to call in gay. 

“Hell yes, I’m calling in,” Marino said. “I am out on the day to show love by putting away my wallet and opening in my heart." 

She plans to volunteer at a homeless shelter.

“This is the hardest time of the year for those who are less fortunate," Marino said. "I wish to show my love to those who need it most.”

As with any movement, Day Without a Gay has met opposition, even from within the GLBT community.

John Michael Weatherly, of Nashville, said the day could prove to be counterproductive.

Weatherly wrote in a recent article in O&AN, “Of course I support gay rights.  I just don’t need to wait for a ‘day’ to be active in seeking equality. If we want to be accepted and treated the same as others, then we shouldn’t accentuate our differences so much.”

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