Saturday, March 31, 2007

What Disposable Income?

Some thoughts about that big-assed disposable income that middle aged queers are supposed to have.

It makes sense. In spite of the continuing trend in gay parenting, most still do not have spawn which need to be raised and sent to some stylish college. The expense of many of the trappings of a 2.3 child family are lost on most queers.

Often when there is an article that talks about marketing to gay men or about gay lifestyle (apart from our notorious free-wheeling sex lives), the phrase "disposable income" comes up. And no doubt there are many wealthy queers out there.

Many gay guys move to expensive cities in order to be with their own. Often income matches "outgo" (or expenditures if you must). In a large city, it either takes a lot of effort to become rich and many people do not enjoy a life of buck chasing. Or a lot of luck to become rich and that is as good as the flip of a coin. (Yeah, one makes his own luck but in that case it comes back to chasing the buck again which is a lifestyle choice.)

It doesn't take much to see that there are a lot of wealthy gay guys out there. And it doesn't take many invitations home to see that there are a lot of midlife gay guys in crumby apartments with a lot of Ikea furniture (as cool as it sometimes is).

While statistically, there probably is more disposable income among queers when the big picture is taken. But is it also another one of those expectation that the middle aged gay is supposed to live up to - like eternal youth? Is it another pigeon-hole queers are stuffed into? Is there something wrong if one is not some kind of pink Trump?

By middle age, most queers have a sense about the financial end-game. What are your opinions of disposable income?

Anonomity in exchange for honesty is suggested for your comments!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. I dispose of my income as fast as it comes in. Is that what disposable income is?

Andrew said...

I didn't have to pay to bring up children. Where did my money go?

Anonymous said...

I started work in LGBT advertising sales in 1989, after seven years of managing gay bars, so I guess I've had a bit of experience with this topic.

(BTW - I'm not afraid to use an ID, I just don't have a blog, Google account or website. Call me Gregg.)

In all that time, I never claimed that we had more discretionary/disposable income simply by virtue of being gay - regardless of being middle-aged, retired or just starting out. But I did sell the OBVIOUS very well: in most cases, when our PERSONAL necessities of life are paid-for (food, shelter, clothing, transportation), what's left over is "play money."

No spouse or children to support (unless by choice); no orthodontist bills, $100 sneakers, college education funds, wedding receptions, "first" cars, etc. for the kids; no mandatory multi-person housing. Etc., etc. etc.

If you waste or lose or party or piss away your income (Andrew...), it's on stuff for YOU - no one else.

By and large, the mainstream, "straight" community doesn't have that luxury. So, on a one-to-one basis, it's obvious that we have substantially more discretionary-income. Add that to the additional, self-focused, "discretionary TIME" (to travel, party, get a higher education, spend at the office) that we have and you've got a pretty powerful picture of a person whose money is a very attractive target for advertisers and marketers of every stripe.

We're not somehow "better" or "richer" or "luckier" than our striaght counterparts - we just don't go through life with that additional financial baggage.

Anonymous said...

I'm not rich by any means. I'm a social worker at a non-profit community based agency, but I make about the same money as my single mom sister with three kids and don't struggle nearly as much as she does. I get along in a smaller place (cheaper) and my bills are less since I am only bying for one. My boyfriend raised three sons and struggled and worked long hours to give them the things he wanted them to have. Now, he and I together seem to have quite a bit of disposable income to use for traveling, dining out, etc. I don't have a blog or google i.d. but my name's Russ. Hi all.

DL said...

I appreciate Gregg's insight. While it's true that we don't have to have the costs associated with a traditional family, it can be sometimes hard to live up to our press. While I guess for marketing purposes it works to set gay guys up as a demographic, the gist of this blog is that middle aged gays are pigeon-holed in so many ways. The assumption is that there are any funds left at the end of the month. Like most populations that just isn't true for even the most frugal of us that live in big cities with normal jobs. I certainly don't begrudge the marketing folks for going after disposable income, my job in the blogosphere is to shine some reality on the life of the middle aged gay. We are not sexless, we are not bitter, we do not have to stay at home and watch TV all the time unless we want to, and we may not be rich. (I mean isn't it an assumption that Andrew pissed his money away. Maybe it's about income and not about being financially frivolous. That assumption demonstrates the problem.) Anything that makes the middle aged queer feel inferior is my target and you can only hear about the supposed disposable income enough times to start wondering if there isn't something wrong with you if you don't have it. It's okay to have a normal income and normal expenses and struggle like most people in our world do. If you don't have a bunch of disposable income - you're still a viable part of our community. While I appreciate what Gregg says and it sounds like a good marketing strategy to target those who have it, not all gay guys have disposable income and that's alright.

Anonymous said...

There are also those in the community who came out after having kids, and lost a bundle in divorce and child care. Just another perspective from a guy who's been there. Disposable income? I'm not poor, but I can't keep up with all the mr. Jones in my gayborhood.

Anonymous said...

Where is my disposable income? It has gone to my IRA, defered comp. and other savings so I can support myself in old age. I could live a much higher lifestyle now, but what about when I am 95?

Anonymous said...

Disposable money? Really now. please...

"Die Broke: A Radical Four-Part Financial Plan" ~ by Stephen Pollan (Author), Mark Levine

Money is not everything. Enjoy life Now!

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