We all know the stereotype of the typical gay man — uber-successful, well-dressed fellows strolling around P-town, Fire Island and other glamorous haute spots. This pervasive image is double-edged, though, because it fails to acknowledge that just like any other demographic, the population of both gays and lesbians includes those toiling below the poverty line as well as those prospering at the highest echelons.
What interests me most are couples, however. To get an accurate view of the state of gay household finances, I headed over to a new report from the U.S. Department of the Treasurythat provides a fairly accurate financial assessment of same-sex marrieds in the U.S.
I’m happy to announce that gay married men, making on average $176,000 per annum as a couple, clock in at 56 percent ahead of the income of our married straight counterparts. And really big winners of the income-earning contest are gay married couples with children who bring in a whopping $276,000 a year on average. (Of course, DINK — double income, no kids — gay couples lead the way in disposable income, of which, in my opinion, they’re disposing way too much and not saving enough, but that’s another story.)
Female couples aren’t doing too poorly either, bringing in a household average of $124,000, which puts them financially ahead of the average straight married couple, who earn a yearly $113,000. Of course, nothing justifies the egregious gender pay gap that we’ll also be exploring in more depth in the future.
So what gives? How do we explain the significant income disparities between married heterosexual couples and married same-sex couples? The Treasury Department’s report offers some trenchant insights:
A large proportion of same-sex couples flock to major metropolitan areas — sophisticated seats of power and centers of media, culture, and consumerism — many of which are located on the coasts. These places tend to have higher cost of living but at the same time are the locus for jobs offering commensurate higher pay. Of course gay folks live everywhere but we are significantly better represented in what some would describe as more desirable cities that are, as it happens, the most gay-friendly as well. Would you rather live in Manhattan, L.A., Miami or San Francisco versus, say, the stomping grounds of Christian supremacist V.P.-elect Mike Pence in Indianapolis or homophobic Pat “The Great Discriminator” McCrory’s Raleigh, N.C.? (No offense to the good people of Charlotte and other towns who worked so diligently to enact LGBT rights ordinances.)