There seems to be a rumor going around that being a same-sex couple means the both of you get to save a ton of money. However, the opposite is actually true: there’s a huge hidden cost to being LGBTQ+.
While it’s true that same-sex couples often split the costs on household and personal items, the unfortunate reality is this: it’s very expensive being gay.
The systemic cost of being LGBTQ+
I’ve gradually realized the impact homophobia has on my financial situation. And the more I realize this is the price for being a member of a marginalized community.
The LGBTQ+ Income Gap
It is hopefully common knowledge that belonging to certain demographics translates directly to your financial standing. Wealth gaps are rising and much of that is due to unequal opportunities, especially in the world of finance. While a white man is offered jobs everywhere he goes, Black Americans have to fight decades of social depravity every moment that they find themselves in a professional sphere. Likewise, women around the world are frequently paid much less than their male coworkers.
But there’s another group that suffers another pay penalty in addition to those piled on for their gender or race: the LGBTQ+ community.
Unsurprisingly, reports show heterosexual males out-earn any other orientation. Lesbians and bisexual women stand to lose the most, and all members of the LGBTQ+ community are more likely to be struggling financially. Although the discussion surrounding wealth inequality is growing, I still rarely see anything about the effect that sexual orientation has on your earning ability, despite mounting evidence.
In other words, who you love can have a dramatic impact on your paycheque.
LGBTQ+ people supposedly spend more money
In addition to earning less, LBGTQ+ tend to spend more as well. In a study I read, 48% of LBGTQ+ survey respondents considered themselves “spenders,” compared to 32% of heterosexual respondents. I’ve thought about this statistic a lot. There are truly endless reasons why this might be.
Spending money to fit into the community
Perhaps there’s more pressure to spend in the LGBTQ+ community. I know it’s difficult to meet other members in the community in day-to-day life, so maybe paying to go out to gay locations plays a role here. Cover and cocktails never did run cheap!
But coming out can be a really big deal, and many of us spend money when we’re trying to figure out our identity and this is a huge cost of being LGBTQ+. Should I dress more masculine? Do I need an edgy haircut? How do I both signal my sexuality while not drawing too much attention? Sometimes you don’t know what aesthetic feels right until you’ve tried them all, and spent a pretty penny to do so.
The mental health cost of being LGBTQ+
However, LGBTQ+ people are at a higher risk to struggle with mental illness. The cost of therapy and medication certainly impacts finances, in addition to time away from work. This can really add to the cost of LGBTQ+.
Furthermore, maybe we’re just angry about discrimination and trying to cope with retail therapy! From personal experience though, one of the most surprising costs is homophobia. I can say that homophobia has directly resulted in overspending. And it’s done this often.
Homophobia costs us
When I start to think conceptually, I can link homophobia to even more of my spending. For example, sometimes it’s hard to find affordable, nearby housing options that accepts same- sex couples, so splurging on something out of my price range is necessary in order to have a place to live.
Not only that, but things like emergency measures (maybe an impromptu Uber trip) to get out of scary, homophobic situations, or a quick pop into a coffee shop when someone on the street is giving you their homophobic glare, will add up quickly.
Some us can share more easily than others
It’s a common trope that each person in a same-sex couple lives in a similar way. If two queer femmes are dating, they’re bound to save money on sharing facial cleanser and lipstick, right?
However, not every queer couple is same-sex, let alone the same-sex couples who have varying lifestyles, aesthetics, and preferences. So, while some couples may be saving money by sharing clothes and cosmetics, this isn’t always the case, and it the significance of that saved money pales in comparison to the wealth disparity experienced on a larger scale.
A disclaimer: poverty might be blinding us
My financial hardships could definitely be hindering the possibilities of shopping as a same-sex couple. If my budget had room for any financial leniency, I can guarantee I’d buy shared items with my partner more often. But, we are disproportionately affect by poverty, so these possibilities are always a further reach away than they are for cis-heterosexual couples.
If my partner and I spent more, chances are we would have more opportunities to save money as a same-sex couple.
Perhaps there truly are hundreds of dollars saved for some same-sex couples out there. But even then, these benefits can only apply to surface-level spending. Unfortunately, financial hurdles are presented to members of the LGBTQ+ community in many more ways on a broader scale.
As the truly endless financial impacts of a homophobic society are considered, it’s apparent that queer people have the odds stacked against them. And this is far before we focus on smaller things such as budgeting or cutting spending!