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Sunday, 15 March 2009

Study: Homophobia lowers earning power - well doh!

An analysis of poverty among lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans is to be presented to Congress next Friday.

Produced by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, the survey has been described as the first of its kind.

It's not. There have been similar studies, though very few, going back years which have shown the same issues this one apparently does.
Its authors have said it undermines myth of gay affluence and demonstrates that lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens are as likely, or more likely, to be poor than heterosexuals.

They added: "Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not explicitly ask questions about sexual orientation, LGB families have been invisible in poverty statistics.

"This first analysis of the poor and low-income lesbian, gay and bisexual population reveals that LGB adults and families are as likely - and, in the case of some subgroups, more likely - to be poor than their heterosexual counterparts, contrary to the popular myth of gay and lesbian affluence."

The review will include a discussion of the social and political factors that may lead to higher rates of LGB poverty, including vulnerability to employee discrimination, inability to marry and higher numbers of those who are uninsured.
There is a overwhelming myth about gays and lesbians which is tied to their public profile, particularly of well-known people, that gay=better-off. This has been deliberately fanned by gay commercial business because it's in their interests.

When I worked for a gay newspaper in Australia we used some of the earliest marketing data about the so-called 'Pink Dollar' to attract then reluctant advertisers. Of course we did, and, shamefully, we also bought into the myth.

I've learnt since that gays and lesbians come in the most rainbow of varieties and most are not very visible. They are the ones affected by factors like poor educational outcomes due to harassment at school, and vulnerability to employee discrimination. They are the ones represented disproportionately in the ranks of the homeless. I'd also suggest that a certain 'ghettoisation' into accepting jobs - such as lower paid social work or working in service industries - would play a role.

Someone like Stonewall needs to fund a similar study here. This myth needs busting.

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