Pink dol­lars and av­er­ages

Si­mon Wil­liamson lives with his hus­band in het­eronor­ma­tively-as­sim­ila­tive fash­ion in Athens, af­ter a year of sur­viv­ing ru­ral Ge­or­gia.

GA Voice - - Voice -

“While the Pink Dol­lar is a phe­nom­e­non about how much ex­tra money we get to throw around, largely be­cause more of us work and fewer of us have chil­dren than our breed­ing coun­ter­parts, it dis­misses the prob­lem that our com­mu­nity doesn’t only boast dis­pos­able in­come, but dis­pos­able peo­ple.”

Win­ter is a nice time to re­flect on how much prep we put into sum­mer bod­ies. While the rest of hu­man­ity uses the cover-up months to get snug­gly with their own bod­ies, we chomp away on Wasa rye with cot­tage cheese and save our calo­ries for wine con­sump­tion, the re­sults of which we then try to re­move, with mixed suc­cess, on sta­tion­ary bi­cy­cles be­cause it’s so eff­ing cold out­side. What? Just me?

Win­ter is also a good time to re­flect on homelessness, and the scourge of it that the LGBT com­mu­nity faces. While the Pink Dol­lar is a phe­nom­e­non about how much ex­tra money we get to throw around, largely be­cause more of us work and fewer of us have chil­dren than our breed­ing coun­ter­parts, it dis­misses the prob­lem that our com­mu­nity doesn’t only boast dis­pos­able in­come, but dis­pos­able peo­ple.

Not only is homelessness a wide­spread prob­lem in LGBT cir­cles, di­rectly re­lated are even more prob­lems spe­cific to our peo­ple. Con­sider that thanks to rank dis­crim­i­na­tion, LGBT home­less peo­ple have even more dif­fi­culty find­ing shel­ters that ac­cept them, and on top of that, they are a far higher risk of vi­o­lence—a risk ex­po­nen­tially larger for trans­gen­der peo­ple.

I be­gan writ­ing this reg­u­lar col­umn when I lived in the middle of nowhere, out past Cov­ing­ton, which is why it is still called “Out In The Wild.” The gay rights fights we won while I lived there didn’t re­ally per­me­ate the area to the ex­tent that they did in At­lanta and sur­round­ing ar­eas. In fact, if you never came to At­lanta you wouldn’t know that much had changed.

The rights of LGBT peo­ple are far more pro­tected in the ar­eas we’ve over­run than in places sparsely pop­u­lated by openly gay peo­ple. And it is in places like this that peo­ple are still thrown out of their homes when they come out as gay, les­bian or trans­gen­der, where bi­sex­ual peo­ple keep their same-sex at­trac­tions to them­selves, and where there is very lit­tle re­course when ter­ri­ble re­ac­tions to com­ing out take place. There aren’t al­ways friends to go and stay with, or new jobs to get, or kin­der rel­a­tives. There isn’t the im­mense me­dia back­lash against ho­mo­pho­bia or trans­pho­bia that is com­mon in ar­eas where we are elec­torally im­por­tant. Ac­cord­ing to the True Col­ors Fund, one in four teens who come out are thrown out of their homes, and 40 per­cent of home­less young peo­ple in the United States are LGBT (rel­a­tive to 7 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion). And they have nowhere to go. I now live in Athens, where I am study­ing political sci­ence, and part of the course is sta­tis­tics: we’re learn­ing how data are dis­trib­uted, and how means and av­er­ages and de­vi­a­tions all work. On av­er­age, we may dis­play high lev­els of dis­pos­able in­come, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bot­tom to the statis­tic. Our mean may be high be­cause many of us are DINKs (dual in­come—no kids, not to be con­fused with twinks), but it is a false statis­tic, be­cause of how con­cen­trated the Pink Dol­lar is on one end of the scale.

Those teens? Their homelessness, and the cy­cle of shit that comes with it, be­gan through ab­so­lutely no fault of their own. Peo­ple’s abil­ity to have a roof over their heads is com­monly de­pen­dent on whom they want to shag or marry. And un­til we fix that, the Pink Dol­lar is a one-sided myth.

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