Guess What
By Bart Vogelzang

Guess what? Due to their intolerant attitude towards minorities, I didn’t speak to several people today. Additionally, I never entered a store in a chain with homophobic leanings.

“What’s your point?” you ask.

“Well, you’ve just seen an example of the invisible boycott.”

Tim Trent recently reported about a San Francisco based gay activist and blogger, Roy Steele, calling for the boycott of a retailer, and that brought something home to me; we have a major problem. Like a joke that isn’t funny, or a smile that isn’t seen, a boycott that is invisible is next to useless.

Boycotting only really works if there are enough people doing it to make a noticeable difference, and one that is not attributable to other causes. If there is a 10% drop in customers, reflecting the oft-quoted low percentage estimate of LGBTQ people in the overall population, its significance is lost when the economic downturn will be assumed to be the cause. If we get another 10% supporting us, such as family and friends, it is still not enough to show what we’re doing, since in today’s economic climate a 20% customer loss can easily be explained away by ‘market fluctuation’, and therefore there will be no change in the corporate perception whatsoever.

What we really need is a way to indicate that we are boycotting, totally aside from the withdrawal of our economic support. Of course we can picket, or make public pronouncements, but there may be a more effective way. We can create a simple announcement that tells everyone what we are doing. You can use your computer (if you are reading this you obviously have one of those) to print up a card which you can then drop off with check-out staff to let them and their bosses know in no uncertain terms that you are refusing to get something at that boycotted store. When the vagaries (and excuses) of market fluctuation are removed as justification of their customer losses, and the message is clear and unequivocal, there will be a notable impact, and the boycott cannot be ignored. If nothing else, any other customer seeing you drop off such a card might be encouraged to also boycott that establishment.

Please note that after many years of experience, I’ve found that card stock is not needed; simply printing on regular paper is quite sufficient…just cut it up into business card size after printing.

In conjunction with this card though, we really need a central registry that easily identifies to everyone exactly which corporations they might want to reconsider using. We all know that there are so many twists in corporate ownerships, their loyalties, their public and employee policies, and their often secret support for so-called ‘charities’, that not many people can figure out which of these companies have discriminatory practices; practices detrimental to us, and to our loved ones. As far as I know, any research being done on these corporate shell games is being done on a piecemeal basis, but centrally coordinating and identifying them all would make things much more efficient. Hey, if the nutjob radicals can coordinate their hatred and discrimination, surely everyone having the most to gain by stopping injustice can do the same.

Here is one suggestion for such a card. Have a good day!