A few weeks back, there was some talk in the mainstream media about a "Day Without a Gay." I personally got encouraged via e-mail messaging, newsletters, and even Facebook to consider calling in "gay" to work, as a protest to Proposition 8.
As you probably know, Prop 8 is the California ballot proposition that changed that Left Coast state's Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.
For the record, I went to work — I did not dial in diva.
As the City Paper's own Greg Hambrick said so eloquently, "The people who know me ... aren't the ones who could use a lesson about what it's like not to have me around the office ... It's the people who don't see us every day who need the educating." Amen.
That being said, I thought it might be a productive (and entertaining) exercise for us to close our eyes for a brief moment and try to imagine what Charleston would be like on a day without gays and lesbians. (If I could create a circa 1970s-produced dream sequence here, I really would.)
You wake up, get dressed, and go to work. All seems well until ...
You'd like to eat or drink in any given restaurant. Bye-bye, food and beverage.
Say you want to go to the ballet? Or is it Spoleto time? Sorry, honey. No one's picking up the phone or setting the stage today.
Where's my FedEx lady? Busy.
My hairstylist? Weep for those who will have to live without hair product.
Having a party? Did you need fresh flowers? Save yourself the shame. Cancel.
Generalizations aside, whether or not your hair grows into a noose that eventually chokes you in your sleep — it could happen — or your sweet lesbian EMT isn't there to resuscitate you after you choke on a pretzel, there's something larger at work here. The impact the GLBT community has on life as we know it is bigger than I can articulate.
Here then is a nowhere-near-complete list of the GLBT names you know (some you won't):
Simone de Beauvoir, Andy Warhol, Melissa Etheridge, Michael Kors, Elton John, Lily Tomlin, Elizabeth Bishop, David Geffen, John Gielgud, Ismail Merchant, Isaac Mizrahi, Marc Jacobs, Willa Cather, Cole Porter, Marcel Proust, Harvey Fierstein, Ellen DeGeneres, and Tennessee Williams. And that's just off the top of my head.
Think about the world without them — without the art, the songs, the style, the strength, the sassy one-liners you wish you'd said.
I'm not expecting this little It's a Wonderful Life moment to change the minds of those who interpret my life as a personal affront to all they hold dear — and honestly, that's not my goal.
Like any sort of civil rights movement, the goal is to remind people of the things that we have in common, like the need to be loved and respected — and protected by the law. Start small, work hard, celebrate the small victories, and by all means, remember to laugh.
The Advocate just ran a great piece on Prop 8, and that strapping George Clooney had this to say: "At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won't be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black."
World history is sullied with ideas, laws, and doctrines which all seemed like a pretty good idea at the time — segregation, public beheadings, women being unable to vote. I don't expect miracles, but I'll work for progress, insight, and the art, songs, style, and strength that we would all otherwise be without.