Guest Blogger

The End of "Gay Affluence:" LGB People More Likely to be Poor

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 20, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: anti-gay propaganda, Gary Gates, gay myths, GLBT, LGBT wealth, Williams Institute

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Dr. Gary J. Gates serves as the Williams Distinguished Scholar at The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. He is a recognized national expert on the geography and demography of the gay and lesbian population and author of The Gay and Lesbian Atlas.

Gary-Gates.jpgThe notion that gay people are disproportionately wealthy represents one of the most common and pernicious myths surrounding the LGBT community. The stereotype is so widespread that it even found its way into US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in the 1996 Romer v. Evans case that overturned an anti-gay initiative in Colorado.

A new study on gay poverty [pdf] that I co-authored with colleagues from the University of Massachusetts (Amherst and Boston) and the Williams Institute (UCLA), released today in a Capitol Hill briefing, shows just how wrong Justice Scalia was. It turns out that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals (LGB) are actually more likely than heterosexuals to be living in poverty. Further, one in five children being raised by same-sex couples in the United States lives in poverty, giving further insight into the legal and economics difficulties LGB parents face.

We used three different population-based (meaning findings can be generalized to the population) and publicly-funded data sources: the 2000 Census, the 2002 National Survey on Family Growth (NSFG), and the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). Analyses from all three surveys confirm that large numbers of LGB men and women are living in poverty, perhaps as many as a quarter of lesbian/bisexual women and one in seven gay/bisexual men. We also find that lesbian/bisexual women are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to receive public assistance.

Our study shows that African American LGB people especially those raising children, face even more serious economic challenges. Their sexual orientation and racial/ethnic identities combine to put them at even greater risk of poverty than either black married couples or white gay/lesbian couples. The same is true for LGB people living in rural areas.

Unfortunately, there aren't any good data sources on the economic needs and issues for transgender people. But a study we did last year that reviewed many surveys of transgender people also found that many live below or near the poverty level.

This new research presents some provocative findings that challenge popular myths about gay affluence. But perhaps more importantly, the findings also challenge the LGBT movement and its political agenda. Our analyses clearly highlight the importance of issues like marriage equality, employment discrimination, and military service-all policy arenas that affect LGBT economic conditions and opportunities.

But as each day seems to bring more glum news about home foreclosures, job losses, and recession, our findings suggest that LGBT people might be particularly vulnerable in this economic downturn. Policy initiatives designed to help struggling homeowners, enhance unemployment and public assistance benefits, and create new jobs should all be understood as an important part of the gay political agenda. Broadening engagement on these issues may be very important for the short-term needs of the LGBT community.

This broader strategy may also yield long-term benefits. LGBT political involvement in "mainstream" policy initiatives may help to strengthen ties to a wide range of diverse organizations and individuals. Active and passionate LGBT involvement in the economic debates of today may create important alliances that could be crucial in winning the struggle for equality tomorrow.

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Anthony in Nashville | March 20, 2009 10:56 AM

I look forward to reading more about this study.

I feel gay media and political organizations were the main forces behind of the "gay affluence" myth in the 90s because it offered a sense of superiority/security during a time when we were not as "accepted" as we currently are.

From conversations with people who are dissatisfied with gay culture, the role of money is a major concern. If you don't have the money to go buy the fashions, travel overseas, hit the Circuit party tours, or numerous Pride festivals, you are not considered worthy by large segments of the LGBT community, especially gay men.

I think the class differentials are the major issue dividing the LGBT community today.

I think this really does present a worthy challenge for the gay population. We have, for so long, clung too firmly to the idea of the white, professional, affluent, and faaaabulous gay male as the ultimate in gaydom. But our population, while happily including this version of gay, is too large and too diverse to be limited by it.

This just underscores the point many of us have been making for a while now: The current push for marriage and marriage-related rights at the federal level, particularly now when when ENDA is about to come up in Congress, is being driven by a small selfish group of wealthy Queer elites who really have little or no understanding of what's really going on out there and what's really important to most of our community.

If HRC and their ilk were really in tune with what's going on in most of our country with the American LGBT community, workplace rights would be at the forefront of their efforts. Yet, we consistently see ENDA ignored or given far less attention in favor of marriage, which is not only already banned in 45 states but is of far less importance to most of us than the right to be protected against discrimination in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations.

The myth of LGB affluence? It's not the fault of the straights, it's an image actively promoted and perpetuated by the Queer elites putting their own issues first and foremost, often to the exclusion of all else. They do it because it's all they care about and in the end they really just don't give a shit about the rest of us.

What are you talking about? The reality is that the group most likely to be affected by the lack of marriage laws are low income gay families. You need to leave your idealogical tinged baggage at the door, and look at what the stats are saying. The highest concentration, for example, of gay families in New York is in the Bronx. These are the people who need the ability have their spouses healthcare benefits, social security and other benefits of being married. Really angers me that someone would use this as an excuse to say the opposite of what the data tells us. I grew up poor and am African-American. These issues affect real people that I know.

Bad example. The Bronx is part of New York City, which has had an anti-discrimination law protecting gays and lesbians (and more recently, transpeople) for years now. In addition, while NYC is by no means a utopia for LGBT people, it's also far less antagonistic toward us legally and socially than many areas of the US which have no such protections.

The reality is that for a lot of us, even in places where there are already laws on the books protecting us like my home state of New Jersey, there's still a lot of discrimination. A federal law would make non-discrimination the law of the land, and as we've seen in the case of racial ethnic minorities, having a federal law on the books does have a positive impact. It may well be years or even decades before the full impact of such a law is truly realized, but it's also essential if we're to have a hope of seeing true equality for LGBT people in this country.

Also, as I've said before, no one's life is on the line because of the lack of ability to get married. The same rights which now come with marriage can be offered with civil unions, which don't generate the same level of opposition as marriage, such as in California, where civil unions remain legal and the rights that come with that status still remain valid.

People are, however, being forced into homelessness, dangerous living situations, and worse by the lack of anti-discrimination protections in the workplace, housing, and public accommodations in most of the country.

There's just no comparison. The right to get and maintain gainful employment free of discrimination is more important and more urgent for more LGBT Americans than the right to marry is or probably ever will be. That's just reality.

As I've also said before, the right to save money on taxes isn't of much use to someone hungry and freezing to death on the streets because they're homeless. There are other ways to gain the rights of marriage without the name, but none of it means anything if you can't feed yourself and your family or keep a roof over your heads.

Oh and one more thing: Since out-of-state same-sex marriages are recognized as valid in New York State, anyone in New York City or anywhere else in NY State can go to Connecticut, Masschusetts, or anywhere else in the world where SSM is legal and come back to full (state) recognition of their marriage.

That makes your Bronx example even less credible.

ou are pretty ignorant. I can give you multiple economic ways in which the lack of marriage has a greater impact on low income gays than ENDA or even wealthy gays. There are ways in which ENDA and marriage rights also compliment each other too.

You sound like every other middle class white liberal I know deciding you can speak for people of color and low income communities. You don't speak for us.

What you are doing, when faced with counter factual information from the actual communities you are discussing is to push discussion back to the debate frame that you would be having with other white middle class liberals about the subject.

Again, I am black. I live in a black working class neighborhood. I grew up Katrina level poor down South in a mostly black low income community. From my perspective, you sound incredibly ignorant and arrogant about the impact of marriage rights on economic rights.

For many, having the ability to obtain the social security benefit of the spouse is a huge deal when you don't have much in the way of savings even after working all your life. ENDA won't change that. Marriage rights will. For many, being able to be declared on the partners benefits for healthcare makes the difference between a bill that's an additional 100 to 200 dollars a month that they can't afford. The economic benefits for the low income couple are much more magnified. IN the case of healthcare, if you are working for a company that discriminates you want the right not be fired, and the right to have healthcare benefits claimed by your partner and his or her children that you maybe raising together.

It's the low income couple that most needs marriage. Wealthy guys can forgo these issues. All your arguments are basically those of how these issues would harm or not harm wealthy white gays. You don't give a second thought to their real impact on low income gays and gays of color. What you say is ignorant when it comes to lower income gays. I just gave you two examples. There are more.

You will note that I am not saying ENDA is not necessary. I am saying both marriage and ENDA are equally necessary. You are playing the ignorant and counter productive "house slave" mentality of deciding for master which rights he can take away. I am not into that game because as my grandmother taught me- that's a shellgame.

I think you are an idealogue, and like the other poster who agreed with you- facts don't trump idealogy in your world. But,t he communities you are claiming to speak for don't have time for your liberal b.s.


First, I attacked your example of the Bronx, not the idea of marriage rights in general. The reality is that state-level marriage rights are accessible in NYC. All that's required at minimum is a short trip across the border to Connecticut to marry. Sure, it would be nice if NY had SSM, but it doesn't and it doesn't look like that's going to happen soon. I'd also point out that there's also no state law protecting the rights of transfolks in NYS outside of NYC and a handful of municipalities as there is for gays and lesbians.

Second, race has nothing to do with what I'm talking about here, it's about class. Do not try to lecture me about low income LGBT's. I made just over $9K total last year and that was in a state with a non-discrimination law protecting all LGBT's. At this level, race is pretty irrelevant. When I was passed over repeatedly for promotion at my last job, some of those promoted over me were black, but they were straight, conventionally gendered blacks. Race has little if anything to do with what I'm talking about here. The fact that I'm white certainly didn't help me at was all about the fact that I'm gender-different.

You also never address the reality that the state-level rights of marriage can be had in certain states by entering into civil unions, such as NJ, NY, Vermont, and California, whereas there's no similar mechanism to obtain anti-discrimination rights in the workplace in jurisdictions without a specific law granting those rights.

As always, it comes back to the basics. If you're unable to maintain employment and housing, to house and feed yourself and your family, all the rest, such as the financial benefits which come with marriage, don't really mean very much.

How do I respond to ignorance?

You have probably never had a person of low economic background challenge you on your ignorance about how marriage impacts economic issues have you?

I am giving you concrete ways in which the reality is far different from what you claim about the economic value of marriage. I gave you two examples that refute your argument on its face. There are others like property rights.

Let me give you an example again from lived experience.

If you own a house together, it would be great to be able to afford a lawyer, but some people don't have either the money or education to properly address these issues. My mother was one of those people.

But it didn't matter because she was married to my step father, and those there was a right of ownership that grew out of state law regarding being married to my step father. As a result of the property being owned by both of them under their marriage- the property rights also accrued to my sister and myself. It wasn't worth much, but it did provide for my sister's education.

I speak as someone who fought my way out poverty into social mobility and someone who has worked on these issues for others in my adult life. I know how these issues are connected because I have had to live it. Marriage to a middle class person (since you can always contract regarding these issues) may not seem as economically vital as it does to a low income person. That's the whole point- that the people most in need of marriage rights are those with the least financial ability.

I mentioned health care for a reason. Even under the best circumstance, to truly protect rights one would need both ENDA and the rights to marry. Without both, a gay family is not protected if both people do not have jobs with benefits.

You haven't refuted this. You are just speaking in vague terms. I am giving you specific refutation. There are a lot more where these refutations come from.

It appears that you have a job and the only thing missing in your life is to get married. Must be nice not having to worry about where your next meal is coming from. Must be nice to not worry about having a roof over your head. You have all your needs taken care of, so you can not fit in the top level of gays and lesbians who only need to care about getting married. So, I guess it's, "Hurray for me and to hell with everyone else."

"You can stop crying now. Mommy's here with your ice cream."

Oh please, get over yourself. I do know how marriage or the lack of it impacts people. I live in New Jersey, where we have civil unions, and I've been following all the problems people have been having with it. I've covered the issue on my radio show. You obviously know nothing about me, but you spout off anyway. Any ignorance here is clearly your own.

The point I've been making, which you obviously don't get, is that workplace rights are more basic an issue for more LGBT people than marriage rights are or ever will be. If you can't get and keep a job, feed yourself, and maintain housing, the rest of it really doesn't matter too much.

Yes, marriage is important, but it's not as urgent or as crucial as employment rights. Given that marriage is already banned in 45 states and ENDA is coming up in Congress this spring, ENDA's the more immediate concern because it actually has a real chance of becoming law soon, unlike marriage rights in at least 90% of American states.

Before you start calling people ignorant, maybe you should make sure you know what the hell you're talking about first.

Sebastian Pernice | March 20, 2009 11:32 PM

The way to marriage equality is to end marriage, period!

I hope that the Transgender Veterans Survey helped provide you with a little insight to the poverty level of transgender people. I want to once again thank you for all the help you provided TAVA in getting that survey out. It has helped to open doors in the VA.

Everyday Transperson | March 20, 2009 12:30 PM

Dr. Williams,

I remember reading in 2007 a study entitled:

"Bias in the Workplace:Consistent Evidence of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

that was published by the UCLA Williams Institute which actually included graphs and tables with the actual percentages of all groups including the transgender sector. If you recall, the study was authored by M.V. Lee Badgett, Holning Lau,
Brad Sears and Deborah Ho........

While I can appreciate your study, I think it is important not to lose sight as to the reason WHY the GLBT population majority is historically disenfranchised in the financial area as was touched on briefly by one of the comments above.... Of course with all of the media hype of elitist GL folks going on, one can see how the affluent myth has grown so

Additionally, there was a post on here not long ago about the very fact that the current census is inaccurate, due to a lack of GLBT demographic data, so I think that using such inaccurate data may to some degree have caused your study to be inaccurate as well, not in any way to impugn your work sir.

Is there anyway that you could perhaps post that study or a link to that study mentioned above ?? I thought that the above mentioned study was very interesting and educating and I'm sure others may find it too when they read it...

Chitown Kev | March 20, 2009 12:33 PM

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Anthony

I've been repeating to myself that it will be next to impossible to have a discussion of ethnicity in the gay community without a discussion of classism. Granted, I know a few gay people that could be considered upper middle class and one couple who is "fabulously wealthy," most of many circle is even more in a "panic" over the economic downturn than I am (my job is relatively secure).

Given the image of the "fabulously wealthy gay male" I also wonder about overall mental health in the gay community. Given that we already have issues trying to unlearn all the homophobic crap that we are taught by society, what may be mental health implications of the "gay affluence" myth on the community as a whole.

Anthony in Nashville | March 20, 2009 12:35 PM

"They do it because it's all they care about and in the end they really just don't give a shit about the rest of us."

I don't think I'm prepared to go that far. I believe it is a function of the changing nature of gay "leadership" since the mid 90s. As a corporate model (both in terms of organization and friendliness towards/reliance on big business) became the standard, those elites were able to navigate the new environment. And they have achieved some successes.

Have some of them gotten too comfortable with their position and influence? I think so. But I believe it's an opportunity for those of us who are not part of the elite to assert our voices and claims to leadership. After all, we outnumber them.

If they prove to be unwilling to share the spotlight, I think you will see new groups emerge to tap into that frustration, much like Obama capitalized on people's anger. You can see some of that with Join the Impact and the Courage Campaign, although we'll have to see what their larger plans are.

Everyday Transperson | March 20, 2009 1:07 PM


Great perspective and I agree 100% !!!

The only problem is that the opportunity "to assert our voices and claims to leadership" will, in my opinion be very difficult to achieve at this point in the circles.

Recently and historically we have seen time and time again everyday individuals from the community with dissenting points of view (challenging the elitists) ganged up on, ousted from blogs, censored, ruined at their jobs, excluded from activism and volunteerism etc. by the very elites who refuse to give up this power. And since they have both money and power, they tend to have control and influence over EVERYTHING and thus those new folks who are trying to level the playing field are quickly and effectively cut out of the equation.........

I'm not sure of an effective way around this, but I am certainly interested in hearing your ideas about how this can be achieved.

ET, drop me a line.

I have been reading your stuff, and I think you need to do some consciousness raisin with transpeeps in a safe space.

As fun as busting hater heads is, it's not going to give you anything but a sore arm here.

Those privileged skulls are tough! And they are not about to listen to Yet Another Angry Transpeep.

They are worried about getting tax breaks for buggery, and are not shy about hurting us to do it. They are like short timers in prison, all twiggy...they can almost taste that full enfranchisement...and they will shank your ass to get a lil recognition.

They will keep fucking you up to get theirs. Count on it. You are not even human to them. Neither is any other trans person. Just useful or not, because that is the plane they are thinking on.

Worse, when the economy really tanks, they will be saying what we have all along, when they can't afford those nights out to eat, or the payment on that car, they will be pushing us even farther to the side.

ET, Social justice is not on the menu here, so, come home and get fed, and eat at my table.

Drop me that note, get your shit wired, and tool up for some real work with some folks who believe in the real deal.

lyssak al

Everyday Transperson | March 20, 2009 12:50 PM

Sorry, meant to say Dr. Gates in the above post, not Dr. Williams......My error.

Yeah, this is a lot more in line with my experiences with LGBT people than what was on Will and Grace. Most of them that I know either have regular jobs or are poor. I'm not saying that there aren't any rich LGBT's (obviously), but if we believe the media myth, then there aren't any poor LGBT's.

As for lesbians facing a high rate of poverty, it's understandable what with the fact that women make so much less money than men do. Het women often marry men, but lesbians don't, so they don't have that access to wealth (not sayin' control, just access).

But, yeah, this challenges LGBT leadership. Marriage and DADT aren't the only things we need, as one popular gay public thinker said about a decade ago. We need jobs and means to support ourselves.

Please do not misuse LGB for a study that centers homosexual oppression at trans peeps expense.

It is offensive, and an apology is in order.


Thanks for setting the record straight on this subject.

And, thanks for pointing out the fact that GLBT African-Americans are "facing even more serious economic challenges" than their white counterparts. As I researched my series, "The Cancer that Slowly Consumes Our Very Souls: Racism," I found that homophobia, and particularly institutional racism, play huge roles in this unfortunate reality.

Keep up the inspired work.

Anthony in Nashville | March 20, 2009 3:47 PM

Well shucks, I don't think I have any answers, certainly not anything that hasn't already been said.

You hit on something very real when discussing the amount of control (especially financially) that the "A list" types have in real-world interactions. I have not seen it as much online, although I could just be ignorant of any particularly nasty confrontations. Likewise, I haven't seen anyone 'excluded' from activism, although I guess there's a fine line between that and being burned out from trying to work with stubborn people.

Off the top of my head, it may sound trite but I really do think it goes back to numbers. Elite gays may have a lot of control, but I truly believe they can't operate without the support of the "average" LGBT. HRC is a favorite punching bag as of late, but I'm willing to bet their effectiveness would be greatly reduced if they only had support of the "6 figures and up" club.

What can we regular folks do? For one, I'd start with being more willing to "buck the system," whether that means continuing to point out obvious problems in the mainstream LGBT agenda to these "leaders," starting our own media and organizations or supporting those who have already started in that direction.

And I don't mean 50 of us starting our own sites or groups, I'm thinking more along the lines of larger collective organization. We may not agree 100% on everything, but if we're on the same page more often than not I think it's a good idea to align ourselves. I think too often "dissenters" aren't able to stick together because they are looking for people who have their exact same perspective on everything. I don't think most romantic relationships can even attain that level of agreeability.

We have to have more faith in ourselves. By that, I mean being less infatuated with degrees, fancy titles and "credentials." I personally feel those types have a role to play, but I also think we too often get intimidated by those and cede leadership to them. Most people who had the greatest impact on social change were not "trained" by universities and such. They were people who had a combination of street smarts and communication skills.

I look forward to your reaction.


Everyday Transperson | March 20, 2009 7:33 PM

Anthony and Stonewaller,

I applaud your efforts and am excited about your views !!

I'm not sure I am able to expand further, as much as I would like to because I sense that I am about to be removed from this blog (just for disagreeing and criticizing the powers that be here.........) but I would like to chat further. Please include a link where you can be reached.

Thanks so much

Anthony in Nashville | March 21, 2009 10:35 AM

Hi there,

Does Bilerico kick many people off the site? I have not been here long but I don't remember that happening.

In any event, you can reach me via email at

2 people in 2 years for repeatedly violating the Terms of Service. So, no. ET just has a persecution complex - check other threads to see more examples.

Everyday Transperson | March 21, 2009 1:10 PM

To clear up any confusion folks.......Yesterday, I posted a comment in good faith and sincerity to Mr. Browning (see thread on the home page entitled "READ THIS: THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE ON BILERICO PROJECT") to end an obvious conflict and move forward. The comment is as follows:

"Mr. Browning,

I am hereby requesting that you and Mr. Blaze stop the retaliation and slandering of me on this blog both individually and collectively.

As I had said before, I am sorry if you and other authors can't accept literary criticism or a different point of view, but your constant harassment, scapegoating and bullying is as you say "not acceptable".

I hope you realize that targeted retaliatory comments like this only add fuel to the fire, are VERY unprofessional for an editor and truly don't make a sincere effort to come to a common ground.

I am respectfully submitting this request and I hope that it is returned with the same respect it was given.

Thank you for your time.

Everyday Transperson.


Clearly by the above comment, Mr. Browning has refused to honor my request and therefore has himself violated his very own terms of use, thus possibly warranting further investigation.

I hope that this clears up any misunderstanding that this above comment may have caused.

Thank you for your time.

A. J. Lopp | March 20, 2009 3:55 PM

One thing we have to remember: The simple act of coming out puts one at odds with the status quo. It may be 2009, but that is still true.

I don't mean to play victim, to blame every struggle in my life to the fact that the conservative half of America hates queers --- but there is no reason for us to pretend that that isn't true, either.

Stonewaller | March 20, 2009 4:21 PM

Rebecca Juro, Chitown Kev & Everyday Transperson,
Thank you for your comments regarding GLBT cmty.

I have been active in every major human rights
movement of the past half century including my
participation in "Three Days of Rage" protests
following the Stonewall Rebellion in New York.

Though I began advocating for Same Sex Marriage
more than 15 years ago, I always maintained that
SSM should not become the primary issue for GLBT.

In the Black Civil Rights movement we made
conscious decision not to elevate Interracial
Marriage to be leading issue for three reasons:
1) would not further energize existing activists;
2) would not activate non-existing activists;
3) would mobilize adversaries on every issue.

This has been more or less result with SSM issue.
Moreover, surveys show only 15% of GLBT ever want
to get married. Polls show 85% of GLBT concerned
about Employment Nondiscrimination. While Gays
blamed Blacks and Latinos for loss on Prop 8,
only 15% of CA GLBT participated in effort!

Additional concerns should include: GLBT
poverty, AIDS, women's health, teen suicide,
elder care, drug abuse, as well as many others.

Frequently find myself lone voice raising issues
of classism, racism, sexism, ablism, ageism,
biphobia and transphobia within community.
For this I have been subject to inattention and
ostracism a/w/a unrelenting ad hominem attacks.

N.B. With background in social science research:
I have to say that as much as I may like survey's
conclusions, the methodology is seriously flawed.

P.S. I am White, middle-class, Gay identified,
bisexual male.

Thank you for being there in the beginning. We owe a lot to you and the other who stood by your side. Sadly, the plaque on the wall near the door of the Stonewall Inn says, "The birth of the modern Lesbian & Gay Rights Liberation." Your trans and bisexual brothers and sisters are not even honored at the place they helped start it all. I wonder why that hasn't been changed yet?

Stonewaller | March 20, 2009 5:29 PM

Anthony in Nashville,

HRC is commonly referred to as the Human Rights
"Champagne" Fund. For this reasons are several,
including: 1) influence of big contributors who
tend to be upper middle class Gay White men; 2)
disproportionate leadership by and for same; 3)
choice of issues of primary concern to above.

I am not burned out by more than fifty years of
activism but I have been burned and back stabbed
by more than a few activists including GLBTs.

Old and New Left labelled Gay Rights "bourgeiose
cause." Fellow anti-war & civil rights comrades
only people to ever call me "fag" to my face.

I was only male Task Force volunteer to support
handful of females in changing organization name
to National Gay AND LESBIAN Task Force as well as
to change charter for purpose of allowing women
to become sole (as opposed to co-) exec director.
NTWST my popularity, criticized by fellow males.

Though I have been activist since childhood, I
now have several university degrees, couple of
titles in addition to my Movement credentials.
Notwithstanding, you are correct about notion
that organizational ability not based on such.

However, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King,
Bayard Rustin and Aung San Suu Kyi were all
heavily degreed. I would have to refresh my
recollection about Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez
and Harvey Milk but I suspect they went past HS.

Harry Hay, Mattachine Society founder, was Marxist
labor organizer, but ENDA supporters do not make
alliances with union movement as did Rustin.

Supporters of right for international marriage
recognition do not make common common cause with
advocates for Latino and Asian immigrant cmties.

Del Martin and Phyllis Lyons were feminists, but
AIDS advocates do not support women in general or
care about women's health issues in particular.

"Culture of Beauty" has led to general rejection
of those with physical or mental disabilities.
Thus, those concerned with teen suicide have not
reached out to other minorities such as bipolar
depressives who commit suicide at higher rates.

Generational divide has led to handful of GLBT
elder care organizations in the country and only
1 GLBT senior citizen housing project just built.
Even elders have not reached out to AARP & such.

For reasons of political opportunism having to do
w/ increasing constituency numbers, Gay & Lesbian
"community" invited in Bisexuals & Transgenders --
only to treat them as stepchildren. Then wonder
why lack of SSM support by Bi's concerned with
polyamory & lack of ENDA suppt by TG's left out.

I have never demanded the unlikely: that anybody
share my social, econ, political, philosophical
or psychological views. Were I to do so not only
would I have no comrades, I would have no friends!

Ten years ago, I attended HRC forum on "Next 30
Years of the Gay Rights Movement." I believe
myself to have been only participant who was
present at Stonewall 30 years before. Two of
panel members were Log Cabin Republican and HRC
communications director. Both insisted that SSM
be at least primary issue of Gay Rights Movement.

A month ago, I attended HRC "forum" on SSM in DC.
There were only three panel members: 1) director
of DC Marriage Campaign; 2) Stonewall Demo ofcr
for SSM; 3) HRC Liaison to national SSM Campaign.

One audience member, young Black male activist,
spoke about working class issues; one audience
member, older Black female activist, spoke about
community issues; I, White mid-class male activist
was only person to suggest intra-community class,
race, gender, age & ability issues take priority.

After I spoke in a vacuum, Black female activist
remarked: "I don't think you have answered his
questions." DC Blade reporter promised to
include my comments but failed to do so.
Though for this unconventional wisdom I have
recieved print & broadcast attention in the past!

For my questioning priority of SSM and resource
allocation which I think is disproportionate to
issue, I have been attacked by GLBT activists who
have known me for 20 years! On account of my
disagreement, I am treated like a traitor.

A.J. Lopp

As above stated: Old & New Leftists labelled
Gay Rights a "bourgeoise" cause. My fellow anti-
war and civil rights activists have been only ones
to ever call me a "faggot" or "queer" to my face.

Majority of Democrats -- including many so-called
"liberals" -- are opposed to SSM in particular.
Polls show that 25% of Democrats are opposed to
any legalized form of GLBT marital arrangement.
One third of San Franciscans oppose SSM; 45% of
Los Angelinos oppose any form of GLBT union.

Thus, no reason to pretend that "conservative
half of America hates queers" so long as one
remembers that so do at least 25% of liberals --
not to mention tremendous number of GLBT who hate
themselves or have bought into "victim mentality."

A. J. Lopp | March 21, 2009 4:28 PM

You are equating opposition to SSM with "hating queers" --- but they are not the same thing. Many do not support SSM, but that does not mean that they "hate queers". For example, our current President.

By "hate queers" I mean the ones who think we do not have a right to exist, or to be who we are, or to express who we are, or pray for God to destroy us and send us to Hell, etc.

Gay philantrophy gave the funds that made this study possible. If it wasn't for Tim Gill, David Bohnett, Stryker, Jared Polis and a few others, we wouldn't have a movement. And Alex Blaze, according to your blogs you made two trips to Paris last year from Indiana plus a jaunt to Istanbul to the gay steam baths. Not exactly poor Rosa Parks at the back of the bus. Most gay non profits such as NGLTF are held at 5 star hotels around the USA. Wealthy People Of Color fly in to complain. What a laugh. Yes there are the poor ones in the rural areas of the south, but most move to New York or California and do very well because we are of above average intelligence.

In fairness to Alex, a lot of us were flying high last year but we fly high no longer.

A year ago I was in house counsel to a part of the world's largest banking consortium. I'm not any longer.

"we knew that it couldn't last forever, but my God, what a ride..."

I've been poor, rich and now struggling a bit. Alex is probably experiencing the same.

Be careful of generalisations....

The "wealthy gays" studies gained traction because the studies were done before the population-based studies, and were heavily promoted. The purpose of the studies was to better convince "non-traditional" advertisers (ie, other than HIV drug, reverse mortgage, and cigarette ads) to buy ads in glossy gay magazines and other gay media. The performer of at least one commonly cited study was a small advertising agency that specialized in ads directed at the gay community.

The "wealthy gays" study population was selected from gay glossy magazine (Advocate, Poz, and others) subscribers, a subpopulation of the community that is disproportionately white, well-off, male, and cisgendered. The number of interviewees was small, and of course the individuals participating were those who were accessible and willing to answer surveys. Of course the income level, amount of travel, etc were reported by the interviewee, without confirmation through other means, so bragging may have been an issue with the study.

The studies may have been embraced by naive activists trying to maximize the LGBT movement's political potential as donors, and by social-climbing gays looking for external validation for the status of being gay.

In the early days it was very difficult to conceive a population-based study of LGBT, because 1. people were even more fearful of being outed and were unwilling to be counted 2. databases had little potentially useful information (eg, cohabiting adults of same sex are not necessarily gay, and do not equal the totality of the gay population, since many gays live alone, are in a heterosexual marriage, etc).

It isn't surprising that the ad agency's "study" got finished first, got promoted to reporters looking for canned info on gays, got reported as gospel truth without attention to study limitations (most reporters are innumerate, unfamiliar with basic principles of polling design and interpretation, intellectually sloppy, lazy, and/or too pressed for time to look for accurate info.

My respects to Drs Gates, Badgett, and the other demographers, sociologists, statisticians working in this area.

Good points Nancy
The Williams Institute at UCLA (Lee Blodgett) also has made several studies on how California and Federal government's revenue is improved through same-sex marriage. It is somewhat contradictory to this study.

I meant Lee Badgett, sorry. I downloaded all her papers and using the well thought out information in my case against the IRS.

Quick question - I read the post with LGBT sometimes and LGB at others. Were trans folk included in the study or not? I'm confused.

Bil. T's are not included. Guess most are upper income professionals like lawyer Shannon Minter. Click on the report at hyperlink in Gary Gate's text.

A. J. Lopp | March 21, 2009 4:40 PM

Back to the point of this post: Gay Affluence, and the Myth Thereof.

Friday night Bill Moyers Journal on PBS included this stat:

My friend Peter Dreier, who teaches politics at Occidental College in California, says "This Economy is a Real Killer." He cites research estimating that for every percent the rate of unemployment climbs, an additional 47,000 people die - half from heart attacks. More than 800 are murdered. And nearly twelve hundred commit suicide.

I suspected that economic conditions as bad as we are experiencing now would push certain people "over the edge" --- people who were already suffering from depression, for example, or people who lose their existing income but returning to work is not an option (due to health, family responsibilities, and so on), or people who just lose hope that they will find another job in time to avoid losing everything --- but I had never seen a hard statistic about this.

And obviously, there are subtle and not-so-subtle ways that GLBT people might be particularly vulnerable, along with other disfavored groups.

Frightening. Quite frightening.

Vince in LA | March 22, 2009 3:44 PM

Isn't this study just looking at one side of the equation - defining "affluence" as the absence of poverty? Shouldn't the study also look at the proportion of gays and lesbians who live far above the poverty line?

One of the big problems in our society is that the media likes to take hold of "sound bites" and then popularize them. In other words, if a study shows that the gay population, on average, has a higher income and net worth than the straight population, then the media often simplifies the statistic and say "gays are richer than straights." But averages are AVERAGES. They are not indicative of every individual in the population being measured, or the relative proportions. I believe that the author is making a similar error by titling this post "The End of Gay Affluence." By using such a simplified title, he is generating a sound bite - now the media can run out and say "look, gay people aren't wealthier than straight people."
A more useful study of affluence might look at the *distribution* of wealth in populations and compare them. We might find then find that the *true* sound bite is "the divide between rich and poor is more extreme in the gay and lesbian population than in the heterosexual population."

Although I think your heart is in the right place, and you are right to raise these issues, I have huge doubts about the data-analysis methods. The three sources of data need you to make big assumptions about the information in order to come to these conclusions.

Many people don't even identify their sexualities accurately on dating sites let alone the U.S. Census (which still engenders fear that the info will be used against us). And I haven't divulged my income to any market researcher ever, nor have most of my friends ...

Seems like you are using stats to support your thesis rather than accurately drawing conclusions from definitive patterns in data.

Good conversation piece though!

I have never had a job in my life that I was not discriminated at due to my sexual orientation. I have a disabled adult in the home, who is HIV positive. I lost my last job due to the company thinking I had HIV. I am HIV negative.