Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-07-01
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


  WINDY CITY TIMES

Gay dollars, labor and boycotts
by Yasmin Nair
2008-12-03

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


The gay dollar has never been stronger. The passage of the anti-same-sex-marriage initiative Proposition 8 brought protests across the country. Subsequently, gay activists have released the names of prominent businesspeople who donated to the ballot measure, and called for economic boycotts of their corporations.

Pictured: Eric Stanley, a queer organizer with the prison-abolition group Critical Resistance.

Such initiatives, while part of gay history, also prompt new questions. What role do boycotts play when many corporations now woo well-off gay consumers, boast of 'gay-friendly' policies and sometimes have gays and lesbians at the helm? What do boycotts say about the connection between gays and labor unions, traditionally among the organizations that call for such boycotts?

The city of Evanston saw the first of recent boycotts in Illinois Nov. 22 when picketers gathered outside the Century Theater. They urged theatergoers not to patronize the business because Alan Stock, CEO of Cinemark, the corporation that owns Century, gave a personal contribution of $9,999 to support Proposition 8.

Gay groups in California have been calling for economic boycotts since the summer. Among the most prominent of these calls is the one about the Manchester Hyatt in San Diego. The hotel is owned by Doug Manchester, but operated by Global Hyatt Corporation. It was revealed that Manchester donated $125,000 to Proposition 8.

In response, Local 30, the San Diego chapter of UNITE HERE, joined a gay group, Californians Against Hate, to demand that Global Hyatt sever its connection with the Manchester Hyatt. UNITE HERE is a union born of the 2004 merger between the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees and HERE ( Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union ) . According to Cleve Jones, a gay organizer with the union, UNITE HERE has had its eyes on this particular hotel since 2006, when the hotel's non-unionized workers protested unfair work practices.

Local 30's political director, Dan Rottenstreich, said that Proposition 8 became the basis for an 'unprecedented coalition' between labor and gay organizing. A press release regarding a Nov. 22 protest outside the hotel said that, 'Organizers are expected to call for major demonstrations in front of Hyatt hotels throughout the nation.'

But will the Hyatt protest translate the same way across the country and in Chicago, where the hotel has a reputation for its support of the gay community? After all, the Hyatt Regency, 151 E. Wacker, was the 2008 host of International Mr. Leather.

In 1977, the activist Harvey Milk led a boycott against Coors Brewing Company for the company's anti-gay policies. Ironically, a current biopic of the gay activist is being released at Cinemark theaters ( and at other chains ) . Both the film's director ( Gus Van Sant ) and screenwriter ( Dustin Lance Black ) are gay.

But it's not just the growing presence of out gays and lesbians ( and their gatherings ) that highlights the complexities of, and differences in, economic boycotts today. The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association estimates that gay and lesbian customers spend $55 billion per year in North America for 'leisure and hospitality services,' according to one report.

So it makes sense to ask gay consumers to withhold their dollars from anti-gay hotel owners like Doug Manchester. But will the alliance between labor and gay organizing last beyond Manchester and Proposition 8? In Chicago, one such alliance failed to get the desired result. In 2004, the Great Lakes Bears invited its members to book rooms at the Congress Hotel, 520 S. Michigan, for its annual conference. Queer to the Left ( QTL ) , a now-defunct group, asked the Bears not to patronize the Congress because its workers were on strike. The Bears did not heed the call. [ Note: This reporter was, at the time, a member of QTL ] .

This certainly did not reflect upon individual Bears but it does beg the question: Given a choice between their interests as gay people and their interests as workers, which side will gays and lesbians choose?

Furthermore, the position of some unions on the issue of gay marriage seems to contradict the basic premise of union organizing: to ensure fair wages and economic parity for all workers, regardless of individual factors like marital status. According to Jones, 'UNITE HERE 'reject [ s ] the compromise of domestic partnerships [ and is ] in favor of full marriage equality.' Yet, many gay ( and straight ) workers might prefer the flexibility of domestic partnerships over marriage. There is no widespread consensus on gay marriage within the gay community.

Still, there are important pro-gay policies echoed in the day-to-day workings of UNITE HERE or Pride at Work ( PAW ) , the LGBT constituency group of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations ( AFL-CIO ) , the largest federation of unions in the United States. Both UNITE HERE and PAW supported a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act; PAW also advocates for domestic partnerships on its Web site even as it presses for marriage equality. Local 2, the San Francisco chapter of UNITE HERE, 'started a Health and Welfare fund for member hotel workers suffering from HIV and AIDS' in 1989.

Finally, are economic boycotts effective? Eric Stanley, a queer organizer with the prison-abolition group Critical Resistance, says that 'the trouble with an economic boycott as a way of working change is that it also argues that everything is 'fine' when not in a time of boycott.' For Stanley, economic boycotts 'uphold the free market myth of capitalism in 'non-boycott' times.' In other words, boycotts don't challenge the systemic inequality that turns some gays into rich consumers and others into ill-paid hotel workers. But Stanley also acknowledges that economic boycotts, as in the case of South Africa, can be a way to put specific pressure on corporations that support state policies like apartheid.

It seems likely that the gay community will press on with economic boycotts and perhaps even work, however evanescently, with labor organizers ( many of whom are also gay ) . The power of the gay dollar will continue unabated, regardless of the fact that some of us, gay or straight, have fewer dollars to spend in the first place.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Dining news: Marriage-victory items; Fourth of July 2015-07-01
Entertainment: Celebs react to marriage news; Jeremy Renner; Spider-Man 2015-07-01
World news: Ontario bans conversion therapy; Moscow; Mozambique 2015-07-01
National roundup: OPM praised; Hillary's video; marriage news 2015-07-01
Gay sports news 2015-07-01
Dining news: Pride cupcakes; Mondo open for lunch 2015-06-23
VIEWS Very bad news, indeed 2015-06-17
World news: Pop star comes out; London candidates; pope's moves 2015-06-16
Dining news: Mindy Segal signing; Father's Day options 2015-06-16
Local news: Precious Davis in national campaign; Dyke March planned 2015-06-16
Theater news: New ATC artistic director; High school theater award 2015-06-10
World news: Japanese LGBTIs; clashes in Russia and Ukraine; UKIP banned 2015-06-09
Dining news: Late-night items; Pastoral; Pork Shoppe 2015-06-09
Out journalist LZ Granderson joins ABC News 2015-06-02
World news: Kazakhstan law struck down; marriage developments 2015-06-02
Dining news: Wingout Chicago; Q-Tine opens 2015-06-02
Dining news: Wine events; El Mariachi cooking demo 2015-05-26
World news: Costa Rica ruling; Chelsea Manning statue; Gambia president's words 2015-05-19
Dining news: Chicago q's new menu; lobster festival 2015-05-19
Health news: HIV/AIDS column; HIV/AIDS Response Act; HBHC seeks boardmembers 2015-05-13
Dining news: A'ville wine walk; National Burger Month 2015-05-13
Food news: Goddess and Grocer; James Beard winners 2015-05-12
Entertainment news: Mariah Carey; Sam Smith; 'Ab Fab'; Joan Rivers 2015-05-06
Theater news: 'East of Eden' cast; Wonka Ball raises $60K 2015-04-29
Dining news: James Beard weekend; Cinco de Mayo, Kentucky Derby 2015-04-28
Food news: Art Smith; Rockit relaunch 2015-04-28
World news: Turing notebook; South African runner; Malawi law 2015-04-22
Dining news: Waldorf's new chef; Jane's for sale; Indiana pizzeria 2015-04-14
Entertainment news: GLAAD Awards; Ellen; Dirk Shafer; Zachary Quinto 2015-04-14
-- World news: Tel Aviv conference; Sarkozy controversy 2015-04-14
Dining news: Passover, Easter options 2015-03-31
World news: Plane crash reopened; Swedish singer; Costa Rica bill 2015-03-24
Dining news: Iron Chef Jose Garces; Shaw's wine dinner 2015-03-18
Dining news: Women's History Month item; Pastoral event 2015-03-17
Dining news: Smylie Brothers dinner; St. Patrick's Day items 2015-03-10
World news: Slovenia OKs marriage; McKellen aims to save gay pub 2015-03-10
National news shorts: Wedding in Texas; Autopsy, report differ; Gay priest dies 2015-03-03
Dining news: Iron Chef Jose Garces; Shaw's wine dinner 2015-03-03
World news: HIV study; Ambassador Wally Brewster; UKIP chair leaves 2015-03-03
Arts news: Harris; Flower & Garden Show; Brave Face Project; Ronnie Kroell 2015-02-25
 



Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.