Are gays/lesbians more or less affluent than straights, and is cause/effect at play?

I’m just curious what people know about studies which demonstrate whether or not that stupid media stereotype about the always-affluent gay man is born out by actual research. My guess would be that it is most definitely not only not true, but very false. That most gay men are less affluent than straight men. I happen to believe that gays are less affluent due to factors relating to lack of self-esteem, low self-confidence, etc., things which are products of society’s hatred for them, in a self-fulfilling prophecy type of way.

Can anybody dispel some ignorance around here?

This here says that partnered gay men make about 3k less than partnered straight men:

This one says that gays and lesbians make less, but it cites studies that claim that they make more:

In short, you can find a study that will say whatever you want it to say.

Oddly enough, I’d agree with SnoopyFan.

Gays and lesbians inhabit all of the tiers of our social hierarchy, and have all different varieties of incomes, from multimillionaire to street person. I’d be surprised if the average income for American gay people was very far off from the average income for America.

But wouldn’t it be safe to assume that average gay person has fewer children than the average straight person? In which case, if gays and straights have roughly equal incomes, gays would be expected to have more disposable income for “non-child” type expenses (entertainment, travel, home mortgage, etc.).

Disposable income would probably be a higher percentage of GLBT income. But overall income would be the same.

::checks latest bank statement, comparing with outgoing bills since::


Sadly, we aren’t all wealthy.

Disposable income would probably be a higher percentage of GLBT income. But overall income would be the same.*

I think that’s the difference we notice in everyday life - while gay and straight people come from various walks of life, education levels, etc, the average straight couple is likely to have more children than the average straight couple and therefore have more mouths eating off the same number of incomes. They might make the same amount, but the gay couple has more money to spend on Barbra Streisand records and flannel lined jeans. :slight_smile:

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard this question!

I think that it’s more likely that gay males live affluently, because they tend to be more educated and therefore make more than the typical male.

Gay women, however, would have to be at the bottom of the metaphorical economic chain. Considering women only make 73% of the income of men, typically, that’s a checks math 26% financial difference than a man-woman working household (considering equal job levels). Additionally, a lesbian household would make 52% less than a male-male household, if my math is correct.

Your math is incorrect.
Using those numbers:
If (say) men made 50,000 average, then women would make 36,000 (approx) average. Therefore a male-male HH would make 100,000 and a fem-fem HH would make 72,000.

Anyway, having kids doesn’t just affect what percentage of your income you can spend on trips to Fire Island and Ani DiFranco records. It also directly affects your income, since having kids sucks you out of the labor force or reduces your hours. Particularly for women.

Therefore, I’d be not at all surprised if lesbian women (probably having fewer kids than straight women) had higher incomes than straight women.

I stand corrected. Mathematics was always my downfall.

I would imagine, sans cite, that there is likely a strong inverse relationship between the level of income and position a person has, and their desire to be “out” in any way, including even responding to polls. That may skew the numbers somewhat.

Sounds plausible.

What’s the perspective on the market economy and climbing the bureacratic ladder in bisexual/gay/lesbian/trans culture? Of course, there’s no monolith, individuals vary, etc etc.

My uninformed outsider’s opinion is that BGLT (sounds like a hell of a kinky sandwich) sub-culture is probably pretty stridently non-conformist and pretty Left/Green. Which makes sense, of course. if growing up BGLT in a hetero-dominant culture has made you feel a wee bit alienated.

But if you want to be prosperous in most times and places…

I think people assume gays and lesbians tend to be disproportionately wealthier because many of the gays and lesbians presented in the media and who are “out and proud” tend to be well-to-do.

I watched a show (POV on PBS) about six months ago about gentrification. The "gentrifiers"were white gay couples with enough money to come in and fix up homes in a poor inner-city neighborhood. The show was interesting because it exposed the homophobia-racism of the predominately black residents, but it also shot down the myth that gay people are more liberal and compassionate. One guy actually said, “If you can’t afford to fix up your house, you don’t deserve one.” What he meant is that if you can’t fix up your house as extravagantly as he can, you don’t deserve one. The home-buyers were like vultures, waiting for the old residents to die so that they could seize their homes. It was disgusting. If I didn’t know better, I would have come away from that show believing gay people were rich.

Anyway, I think for many people–especially poor people–they see images like this and think gay people hold onto an unfair portion of wealth. What they forget is that those gay people who are comfortable enough (and lucky enough) to be able to come out tend to be those who aren’t living paycheck to paycheck.

When I was in college I worked at a kennel in midtown Atlanta, in an area with a very dense, well-to-do gay community. Most of our customers were gay, and they could afford to spend exorbitant amounts of money to groom their poodles and board them for months at a time. However, many of the minimum-wage earners cleaning up the dog doo were gay too.

I wish folks would stop calling it “gay and lesbian affluence” and start calling it “DINK affluence”. Double Income No Kids changes everything for every couple regardless of their orientation and trying to drag that into the mess is often a tactic used by so-called “pro-family” folk. If you wanna see the overall disposable income for the GLBT community drop considerably, streamline two-person adoptions and remove the hurdles for gay couples to raise kids. I know of many young gays and lesbians who either want in the future to have a family or are planning it out as we speak but its a messy, difficult, and expensive task which a lot just feel is more than they can afford. I personally would rather have kids than disposable income to buy that new Gucci whatever, although both would be very nice :slight_smile:

The elitist media promotes the stereotype, sadly, and I hate that (as in “Will and Grace” or “Queer as Folk” or even in that recent article in New York magazine about gay adoption). Sometimes I think it must be because many people in the media are themselves gay, and wish not to portray their “class” as (God forbid) poor - they want to be portrayed as glamorous, fun, sexy, desirable - but God forbid anyone see them as vulnerable or even needy.

That’s why I look neither to the media nor Democrats to “protect” my interests. They won’t do it. You have to be a little aggressive about protecting your own interests if you are gay. (Case in point: Gephardt’s remark that gay marriage is “not doable at this time” sounds like “your time will come, it’s just not now” like they used to say to blacks).

It is not possible to answer the original question. You would either have to check with every member of the two populations, gay and not-gay, or a take a random sample.

In either case, you must identify with some certainty which group any particular individual within the sample or within the population falls. We can’t do that–identification of sexual orientation is self disclosed–it is not a statistic or variable that can be independently measured. So all these studies are no better than straw polls. Garbage in, garbage out.

There’s a lot of gay men (and quite a few lesbian women) living far below the poverty line because they were thrown out of their homes for being gay and lesbian.

There are studies that claim that gay couples make more, but those studies tend to focus on gay couples that are publicly out. If you work for McD’s in Alabama, you aren’t going to tell anyone that you’re gay. There’s a lot of closeted gay men and women working at all sorts of levels of society, many of whom were probably counted as straight for the purposes of at least some of these surveys.

Until we have real, working antidiscrimination law, we won’t know for sure who makes more – and once we do, it won’t matter.