Be a gay man.

I’m in favour of opinions. I have my own. I am more strongly in favour of evidence. It’s coming up more and more in My Field, for example, and has been a staple of discourse on our diverse homosexualist communities since the 1990s. The next time somebody tells you “gays” are a “desirable target market” because “DINKs” have “higher disposable income,” your response should be: Prove it.

They won’t be able to. And the results for lesbians will surprise the hell out of fabulists of gay-male wealth.

M.V. Lee Badgett, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men:

  1. “The average lesbian/bisexual woman in this sample [General Social Survey: National Health and Social Life Survey] earns $21,331 per year (in 1991 [U.S.] dollars), 8% more than the average heterosexual woman, who earns $19,738 per year…. Gay/bisexual men earn $21,258 compared with heterosexual men, who earn $28,680 per year, a 35% difference” (p. 34).

  2. [T]he census findings match the GSS findings quite closely. The… study compared people in married and unmarried opposite-sex couples with people in same-sex couples. They found that men in same-sex couples earned from 13% to 31% less than men in married couples, depending on where they lived. Women in same-sex relationships who worked full-time, on the other hand, had no statistically significant difference in earnings compared to married women who worked full-time.” Other analyses show “a 30%–32% wage penalty for unmarried gay/bisexual men, while unmarried lesbian/bisexual women earn 17%–23% more than married heterosexual women” (p. 36).

  3. Gays and lesbians have children – sometimes at rates not significantly different from straight people. (Full references are in the book. I may later cross-reference links.)

    Survey & question Lesbians Hetero women Gay males Hetero males
    [Have] children in household 32% 36 15 28
    [Respondents are] parents 67 72 27 60
    Voter exit poll
    Children in household 31 37 22½ 32½
    GSS/NHSLS 28 14

    Also, in the 1990 U.S. Census, 20% of lesbian couples and 5% of gay-male couples had children vs. 57% of (hetero) married couples. In Canada: “About 15% of the 15,200 female same-sex couples were living with children, compared with only 3% of male same-sex couples.” Gay parenting seems considerably less common in Canada, but it is hardly nonexistent

And of course now we have even fresher evidence. “Gay Affluence Questioned Using Census 2000 Data”:

Men in same-sex couples typically earn less than other American married men, according to a newly released Urban Institute analysis of Census 2000 data…. But the institute’s analysis found the income gap lowered or closed entirely when it looked at states with laws that protect workers from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. It is currently legal to fire someone based solely on their sexual orientation in 36 states. “These data suggest that when the fear of job-related discrimination is lifted, gay men perform on par or better than other American men in the workplace,” said David M. Smith, communications director and senior strategist of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, who commissioned the Institute’s study.

The data are online:

  1. Income of gay men lags behind that of men partnered with women
  2. Workplace protection linked to higher earnings for less-educated gay men

I’ve known only two conspicuous-consumer gay men. The rest of us are just making a living.

(Originally published 2003.07.07; updated here 2010.11.15.)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.11.14 15:05. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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