Gay money

The truth about lesbian & gay economics

About this project

This project is meant as a repository of information on lesbian and gay economics. Importantly, it’s meant to be an easy-to-find data source for journalists. I want to remove journalists’ temptation to lazily reiterate the claims of gay marketers, which they’re all too happy to do.

In fact, that’s the genesis of this project. Though I’ve been following the topic off and on since M.V. Lee Badgett’s Money, Myths, and Change came out in 2001, the catalyst was a ridiculous article in the Toronto Globe and Mail (2009.07.03) by Marina Strauss and Tara Perkins. “Looking for gold at the end of the rainbow” was the cringe-inducing hed for this piece, which preposterously proposed an entire new marketing category: Gay wine.

Even an Ontario winery is displaying the rainbow, on a new wine it calls Chardonngay ($1 from every $19.95 bottle sold goes to AIDS research).

“Gay people have better than average taste in wine and they have a lot of disposable income to spend on wines,” says Daniel Lenko, owner of his eponymous winery. “It might look a little bit campy or a little tongue in cheek. But a lot of people are waking up and saying, ‘Hey, these people have been ignored as a potential sale. Let’s get our heads out of the sand and do something about it.’ ”

The efforts can pay off handsomely. According to the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, the GBLT demographic is estimated to have the collective buying power of

...and at this point I don’t need to continue excerpting the article, because it’s all bullshit from there. It is indeed a lazy reiteration of gay marketers’ claims.

So I called up Tara Perkins, who astounded me when she claimed she and Strauss had “looked around” for information on gay economics and couldn’t find any. (Independent and verified information, I mean.) Apart from the fact that my own blog entries would have given a reasonable clue, it shocked me to learn that not one but two journos at a leading newspaper would commit an offence equivalent to asking a pharmaceutical company about the side-effects of a new drug or quoting a tobacco conglomerate on how safe cigarettes are.

Even business journalists with a pro-profit bias, as most or all of them have, couldn’t possibly just go right ahead and quote marketing figures as though they were fact. Could they?

Well, they did.

I decided to do something about it, though it took me a while to start and even longer to finish. I decided to read all the research on the topic and summarize it in one convenient location so that nobody, not even Strauss or Jenkins, could ever make this mistake again and claim they couldn’t find the truth.

Another motivation, quite real though easily ridiculed, is to contribute to the gay community’s understanding of itself. This is actually rather important to me, but again, I expect to be ridiculed for it, so I’ll just keep the details to myself.

Gestation of this project

I started gathering research papers in April 2010. I read them all (not to mention ten books and many popular-press articles) through October 2010, then published my results 2010.11.16.

About the author

I’m Joe Clark, a journalist and author in Toronto. I am not an economist. All I did was apply my education and nearly 20 years’ experience reading and cross-referencing research papers. This literature review is a journalistic reporting exercise. Check my Contact page if you are interested in doing that.

Posted: 2010.11.16