CHARLOTTE — The economy is still limping along and plenty of folks are looking for ways to save a dime. A frequent shopper card here and a few coupons there can add up to big savings at the end of the month.

Two gay Charlotteans want to add a different spin to the coupon craze. Saving money is good. Saving while also giving back is better.

Dan Mauney, of Takeover Friday fame, and Michael Rusk are launching this month their new “Gay It Forward” coupons. Daily and weekly deals and promotions for area restaurants, salons, retail outlets and other businesses are on their list of special giveaways for local LGBT community members.

“We started it just this year and we birthed the idea and it’s interesting how the concept developed,” Mauney says.

Gay It Forward, or “GIF” (pronounce the word “gift,” without the “t”) as Mauney calls it, combines community buying power and community service. Consumers will be able to choose to donate a portion of their purchases from to several local and national LGBT non-profits, including Time Out Youth, the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network, the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, the Human Rights Campaign and Campus Pride.

A spin off of the “pay it forward” meme, Mauney says the idea for the name came from an episode of “Will & Grace.”

“It was in a scene with Will and Jack,” Mauney says. “Jack says, ‘I guess we need to gay it forward,’ and Will responds, ‘You’ve been wanting to say that for a long time.’ It all just kind of added up.”

Mauney says he and Rusk will work with LGBT-friendly businesses that are mostly locally- and independently-owned. They say such a model is a departure from other LGBT-focused coupon dealmakers who often focus on large, national brands. GIF’s businesses will include popular restaurants and retail stores and Mauney says they’re even considering including services like oil changes.

“We’re going to reach out even to car garages,” he says. “As a gay man, I’m not probably your most butch person and for me to walk into a garage, I want to make sure they have my interest at heart and treat me with respect.”

Mauney says GIF will serve many purposes. Some will simply see it as a way to save a buck. Others, he hopes, will see the effort’s educational value.

“As a community we do need to be mindful, with the world we live in today, that we are supporting those who support our community,” he says. “We are using GIF as an educational piece to show people that there are businesses that support our community. We might not have a deal for you, but it is still educational.”

Unity, Mauney says, is important to the local community.

“There’s power in numbers — I’ve said that from day one,” he says. “When I know someone has a similar interest, we can unite. That is important. Two voices are louder than one.” : :

info: Learn more about Gay It Forward, which launches this month, at


Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.