It’s no secret that LGBTQ+ people face a range of financial challenges that heterosexual people simply don’t need to contend with. Less discussed are the effects of financial discrimination on building LGBTQ+ generational wealth. The stereotypical view of a wealthy gay couple with no children and a sizable disposable income is just that — a stereotype.
In reality, the “American Dream”— buying a home, getting married, having kids, finding a good job and investing in a 401(k) — is out of reach for many LGBTQ+ people, according to a survey by TD Ameritrade. Almost two thirds (35 percent) of LGBTQ+ millennials say they are unlikely to achieve these goals by age 40, compared to fewer than half of straight millennials. The same survey found that while the average annual income for a straight household is $79,400, the average LGBTQ+ household earns just $66,200 a year.
LGBTQ+ people are being left out of generational wealth for many reasons including family rejection, systematic barriers and a lack of financial education. With almost half of LGBTQ+ adults saying they have been excluded by a family member or close friend as a result of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, a lack of familial financial support is a common problem for many in the community.
This combination of unique financial barriers that LGBTQ+ people face is what has led to generational wealth gap. It’s a problem that will only affect more queer people if we don’t address it now.
Legacy financial exclusion
At every stage of life, it’s not uncommon for LGBTQ+ people to encounter financial challenges that their heterosexual counterparts won’t face. Being kicked out of their homes as teens due to unaccepting parents, not receiving financial support from family for college, being removed from an inheritance — the financial cost of being LGBTQ+ can be substantial.
With the average inheritance reaching close to $177,000 according to a HSBC survey and Cerulli Associates forecasting that up to $68 trillion will trickle down to younger generations within 25 years, LGBTQ+ heirs could collectively lose trillions through inheritance exclusion.
“Even much smaller amounts could help folks pay off debt, pay off a home, send their own kids to college and help them with their own retirement. Many LGBTQ+ kids aren’t getting these benefits,” explains John Auten-Schneider. Auten-Schneider is the co-owner of The Debt Free Guys blog and host of the Queer Money podcast, a leading gay money blog and podcast for the LGBTQ+ community run by him and his husband, David.
Raising a deposit for a house or apartment can be a difficult task for all people, but without financial support from family, many would not be able to fund a deposit. When David’s parents pass away, David’s sister will likely be inheriting upwards of $1,000,000. Yet, David says, he won’t receive any of this money, solely because he’s gay. “His parents have every right to do with their money what they want, but it’s a particular disappointment that they’ll do this only because he’s gay. This, of course, means we need to plan differently for our retirement than his sister does,” explains John.
Just because David and John are LGBTQ+ financial experts doesn’t mean they don’t deal with many of the same systematic challenges that impact other members of the community. Younger LGBTQ+ people also face challenges directly related to their sexuality or gender identity.
A disproportionately high number of young people experiencing homelessness identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. According to research from the Williams Institute, between 20 percent and 45 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. Lacking access to basic housing or financial support from family can set up a young person up for economic disadvantage before they even graduate from high school.
LGBTQ+ students also shoulder a larger student debt burden than their straight peers to the tune of an extra $16,000. “This has been attributed, in part, to LGBTQ+ college students assuming more debt simply to leave hostile home lives. In some cases, parents may forgo helping their queer children in favor of helping their straight children,” explains John.
Knowledge is power
At the start of 2020, Michigan-based Lexa VanDamme was at her financial rock bottom. Stuck at work after a 70-plus hour work week with no money in her bank account, bills due the next day and a broken down car, she decided to make a change. “I realized that I needed to face my financial situation,” says VanDamme. “I dove deep into the online world of personal finance to learn about budgeting, debt payoff methods, saving and investing.”
After her crash course in finance, VanDamme refinanced her credit card debt into a lower-rate personal loan, created a workable budget and started a side hustle to make extra income. There were a few bumps on her journey: “I actually cycled back into credit card debt three different times. I would pay it off, then eventually max it out a few months later,” says VanDamme. Still, she managed to pay off her debt by following the financial rules she had set for herself.
While trying to learn about personal finance on her own, VanDamme realized there was a need for accessible and relatable content that appealed to a wide range of people. She decided to create The Avocado Toast Budget (The ATB). Starting out as a blog just over a year ago, The ATB now counts more than 400,000 followers on Tiktok.
“For the longest time, the loudest voices in the personal finance community were cis, straight white males and, as a queer woman, I wanted to share information and tips that were often overlooked by those creators,” says VanDamme.
For many LGBTQ+ people like VanDamme, after spending so long hiding who she really was, she wanted to live as true to herself and be as free as possible. “This led to me ignoring my spending habits and being stuck in the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle. Airing my financial dirty laundry brought up similar feelings of anxiety and concern I felt when first coming out. How would people react? What would they think?” says VanDamme.
There is already a heavy stigma around talking about personal finances, especially when you may be struggling financially. “Since queer people often spend our lives fighting for the world to accept us and our queerness, we may be less apt to talk about our financial insecurities and struggles,” says VanDamme.
Genuine representation goes beyond just diversifying the financial content creators who receive media platforms, with the advice given by these experts also needing to be fully inclusive. “Advice tended to ignore how systems of oppression affect people of color, women, the LGBTQ+ community and more. We know statistically that it’s easier for some to build wealth than others,” she adds.
VanDamme has an ongoing series on Instagram focused on the intersectional nature of many financial issues. The series helps shed some light on the economic realities that often contributes to minority community challenges. From financial inequality that disproportionately impacts disabled people to wealth inequity and racism and the cycle of poverty, VanDamme works to educate her audience on pressing topics that matter to them.
“It’s especially important to talk about the financial challenges that trans people in our community face. This includes increased reports of lower wages, limited and more expensive housing options, and twice the rate of unemployment. This heavily impacts their ability to build wealth,” she explains.
While being LGBTQ+ can underpin unique money issues, queer people of color and queer women often experience additional difficulties around financial matters.
In addition to the financial barriers faced by LGBTQ+ people, queer people of color also face a racial wealth gap. Employment discrimination, systematic inequalities and disparities in financial education all contribute to this unequal financial playing field.
According to research from the Federal Reserve, the average white family’s wealth is eight times higher than the wealth of an average Black family. The gender pay gap also contributes to excluding women from building generational wealth, according to the latest statistics compiled by Pew Research, which show that women earned 84 percent of what men earned in 2020.
Carmen Perez, creator of Make Real Cents, a personal finance blog dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence, believes it’s important to have experts who are more representative of the people they’re speaking to. “I heard a quote a while ago: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ I think that’s really important because eventually, if you don’t have a model to follow, either you have to be the first, or it’s never going to happen,” she says.
As a woman of color and a lesbian, Perez knows firsthand how important it is to address the absence of representation in financial education. “It’s definitely one of the things we have to step back and look at in the LGBT community,” says Perez. “There’s a compounding effect because not only am I part of the LGBT community as a lesbian, but I’m also a minority, and I’m also a woman, and there’s a lot of hurdles up against a lot of folks in this space,” she adds.
With more than 60,000 people following her Make Real Cents account, Perez is playing a part in democratizing access to finance. There, she does everything from break down the cost of credit to explain 401(k) company matches with easy-to-read graphics and Insta stories. Her methods are a world away from the complexity of some traditional financial advisors and tools.
“Millennials are starting to change the money game because we’re delivering advice in a way that isn’t super technical. It can be so overwhelming to watch CNBC with all these screens and tickers that don’t mean anything to you personally,” says Perez.
Increased representation in the finance space means a light can be shone on vital issues, resulting in deeper conversations that make money less taboo. “We’re finding instances where historically people who have been locked out of the finance industry, by design, are speaking up. Unlike some traditional financial advisors that give out all this jargon and talk in all these terms that many may not understand,” says Perez.
Despite the long-standing barriers facing LGBTQ+ people in gaining access to financial education and financial services, LGBTQ+ personal finance content creators now offer a way for many to improve their financial literacy in more convenient ways than ever before. While investing early and regularly is one of the most effective ways to secure a financially comfortable retirement, it’s never too late to build wealth and support for the next generation of LGBTQ+ people.
“[You can] create legacy wealth within the LGBTQ+ community by setting up your estate plan to donate to LGBTQ+ causes that will help homeless youth and [by] giving to local, younger LGBTQ+ folks you know personally,” adds John.
Negotiating the LGBTQ+ generational wealth gap is no small feat. But continuing the discussion around both financial literacy and taking steps to combat systematic financial issues can go a long way to address the financial challenges impacting the LGBTQ+ community.
“The stronger we are as LGBTQ+ individuals and allies, including our financial strength, the stronger we are as a community,” concludes John.
Finbarr Toesland is an award-winning journalist committed to illuminating vital LGBTQ+ stories and underreported issues. His journalism has been published by NBC News, BBC, Reuters, VICE, HuffPost, and The Telegraph.
Finding your footing in fall housing market
Act quickly before winter arrives when selling
Though it may not feel quite like fall weather quite yet in some parts of the country, as students return to school, we know that it means fall is right around the corner. Without question, fall is usually a wonderful season – it is the perfect time to enjoy beautiful weather, and plenty of festivals and fun. The return to school also means, for many, a return to routine – to getting organized and beginning again to check things off the to-do list after the lazy days of summer are over.
You may have heard that housing inventory and activity is often lower in the fall than in the popular spring and summer seasons – and this is true. On the other side of the coin, however, fall buyers are often more serious about buying. They may be eager to buy quickly to get children enrolled in school, because of a job relocation, or due to a change in their family situation. Often, fall buyers are eager to find a home they love quickly, and to take action once they find it.
The good news is that if you plan to list your home for sale in the fall, there are a few tips and things you can add to your to-do list that will help you market your home in the best way possible and maximize your chances of a quick and successful sale. These include:
Act quickly: Depending upon the area of the country that you live in, beautiful, crisp, colorful fall weather might quickly give way to less desirable winter weather. It’s often far easier to sell a home in the fall than it is to sell in December, January, or February when bad weather might make traveling difficult, and potential buyers less likely to want to leave their homes. Once you’ve decided you’re ready to sell, it’s best to make every effort to list your home quickly to take advantage of good weather and buyers on the market.
Photograph the property as soon as possible: In many parts of the country, fall is a truly beautiful season of the year. Fall typically also offers plenty of beautiful, natural light. Take advantage of those ideal conditions by taking pictures of your property early. Don’t wait until the leaves begin to fall and the skies turn gray. Get your pictures early and use them to attract potential buyers to the unique beauty, both indoors and out, that can be enjoyed in your home.
Feature some fall curb appeal: You may not have spring flowers in the fall, but there’s abundant natural beauty to enjoy nevertheless. If you have falling leaves, make sure to regularly rake and bag them. Mow the lawn, perhaps add some new mulch, or consider adding some fall flowers. These steps don’t take long or cost much money, but they can go a long way toward catching the eye of potential buyers.
Leave the lights on: In fall, the sun begins to set early. As a result, it’s important to keep your home as bright and inviting as possible. Clean your windows, open the curtains or blinds, and encourage as much natural light to come in as possible. If you have very dark paint colors, consider having a few rooms repainted to lighter shades. This will maximize light, and make your home appear more open and airy. Finally, if the showing is later in the day, be sure to leave plenty of lights on within the home. This will not only increase your curb appeal as potential buyers approach the home by making it look warm and inviting – it will also help buyers feel more comfortable inside your home as they envision themselves in that space.
While these tips are intended to be helpful, it’s important to remember that one of the best steps you can take to truly increase your chances of a successful home sale is to hire a real estate agent who knows and loves the community and can help you truly tailor the marketing and pricing of your home to potential buyers in your area. Finding and connecting with an agent that can help you do exactly that is essential. At GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help.
At GayRealEstate.com, we aren’t just passionate about real estate. We’re passionate about real estate with a purpose. Our mission is to connect LGBTQ home buyers and sellers all over the country with knowledgeable, talented, and experienced LGBTQ-friendly realtors who know their communities well and are dedicated to helping clients every step of the way. Wherever you are in the real estate process, and whatever your goals, we’re here for you, and we’re ready to help. If you’re ready to get started, connect with us today.
Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].
Late summer must-haves for gay beach lovers
Sunglasses, beach chairs, and more to keep you stylish in the sand
Finish the dog days of summer in style with these beach-ready requisites to enhance your fun in the sun.
Helinox Beach Chair
Standard camp chairs don’t hold a candle to Helinox’s high-back, splayed-leg beach seats that offer more than just stability in the sand: Sturdy aluminum construction allows for up to 320 pounds of weight while mesh ventilation panels, side pockets for small essentials, and an adjustable headrest for pillow placement provide comfort while you cruise the coastline. $170
Triple-walled vacuum insulation, a comfortable loop cap and slip-proof base contribute to the practical aspects of Welly Bottle, but it’s the sexy minimalist design that’ll turn more heads than your teeny-weeny polka-dot bikini. $40
Nomadix Original Towel
Super-absorbent, quick-drying MicroTerry fabric keep Nomadix’s lightweight Original Towels resistant to sand and lingering odor, slip-resistant when activated by moisture, and uber-stylish since the post-consumer recycled material lends itself to more than 30 dye-less prints that won’t fade like your farmer’s tan. $40
Even though “Zack Morris Is Trash” – according to Dashiell Driscoll and Jason Flower’s 50-ep strong “Funny or Die” series – he’s still the quintessential ’90s himbo, and you can channel his too-cool-for-school energy in Feisedy’s oversized mirror-shield sport sunglasses with lightning bolt temples that keep pointed gazes concealed on the beach and beyond. $26
PureBreeze Personal Fan
Martha and the Vandellas waxed melodic about a heat wave in the early 1960s, but it probably didn’t compare to today’s record-smashing scorchers that require reinforcements, like PureBreeze’s rechargeable personal fan featuring three speeds and an optional aromatherapy diffuser for enhanced R&R. $25
JBL Clip 3
Jury’s still out on 2022’s song of the summer (and with heavy hitters like Beyonce, Harry Styles and Lizzo vying for the title, deliberation ain’t easy), but you can cast your vote by pumping up the volume through the waterproof, so-light JBL Clip 3, which makes transporting superior sound quality from the parking lot to your sunning spot a real breeze. $40
Body Glove Water Shoes
Body Glove’s 3T Cinch water shoes protect your pads from jagged rocks, slimy seaweed, and the occasional crab picking at your piggies so you can sing wee-wee-wee all the way home. $38
Quicksilver Straw Hat
Leave it to venerated beach brand Quiksilver to design an outdoor hat that’s not only functional but fashionable: the straw-constructed Outsider Waterman provides UV protection on your head and face while its McConaughey vibe will keep you feelin’ alright, alight, alright. $28-$34
The Blade may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made via this post.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. Connect with Mikey on Instagram @mikeyroxtravels
Fla. ‘Pride Leadership’ firm survives pandemic to face anti-LGBTQ legislation
‘Are gay leaders better? Of course we are!’
(Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a multi-part summer series of stories taking a closer look at how a group of diverse LGBTQ entrepreneurs survived and thrived during the pandemic. The series is sponsored by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. All installments in the series are available on our website.)
Dr. Steven Yacovelli has spent more than 25 years delivering diversity training and developing LGBTQ leaders, but after surviving a nearly half-million-dollar loss during the pandemic, the “Pride Leadership” author and Top Dog Learning Group co-founder now fears legal repercussions from Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.”
“I can go to a Florida-based client and potentially both the company and an employee could now sue me as the deliverer of the diversity training,” Yacovelli told the Blade. “That training is now potentially illegal because of the Act.”
Top Dog Learning Group is a diversity and inclusion consulting firm based in Orlando and has been delivering training, to include leadership development for the LGBTQ community since 2002, initially as Yacovelli’s “side hustle” while a corporate executive.
At the height of the pandemic’s economic crisis in 2020, Yacovelli said he lost nearly half of his business earnings in two weeks. They were able to survive and recover mostly due to his previous experience with Zoom and other virtual platforms.
But while they could increase their instructional capacity by going virtual, and grow through the crisis, the current impact of Florida’s anti-LGBTQ legislation now threatens his small business.
In April, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), whom conservative voters in a 2024 presidential election straw poll chose over former President Donald Trump for the second year in a row, signed the new law he dubbed the “Stop Wrongs Against our Kids and Employees Act.” It took effect July 1, despite First Amendment legal challenges.
The Florida law, though targeting the alleged teaching of critical race theory in public schools, also prohibits instruction that “compels” employees or students to believe privilege or oppression “is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.”
This legislation, and the popularly known “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed earlier, have served to decrease Florida’s score on Out Leadership’s 2022 State Level Business Climate Index, published amid a cascade of anti-LGBTQ measures pursued across state legislatures.
New York’s LGBTQ business climate ranked No. 1 for the second year in a row, earning 93.67 out of 100 points, while South Carolina scored last with 33.63 points.
Florida, ranked 31, and Oklahoma, ranked 49, lost points for their “Don’t Say Gay” bills among other anti-LGBTQ legislation.
“LGBTQ-friendly environments are business-friendly environments,” Todd Sears, Out Leadership founder, told Axios in June.
Florida’s “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” also vaguely states that an individual shouldn’t feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” as a result of the training experience due to their “race, color, sex, or national origin.”
This “discomfort” ban worries Yacovelli as he facilitates difficult conversations in a currently accepting community.
“I look at this as a taxpayer and as a human who lives here,” he said. “But the good news is I live in a very inclusive community because of the Pulse [shooting] and for other reasons. We’ve got each others’ back.”
Yacovelli said his local government and representatives have been very supportive, “but it’s hard.”
The problem of capital
When he was between jobs in 2008, after having been terminated from an executive position without explanation (Florida is an “at-will” state meaning an employer can fire an employee without cause), he followed his friend and co-founder, Ruth Bond, to Paris where he had an epiphany.
In a Paris cafe, he saw a simple yet elegant logo for a French telecommunications company and decided it was time to design a similar, simple logo for his side-hustle and move it into full-time reality.
Years later, he now sees the comforting spirit of his “fur-daughter” Ella, a mini-Labradoodle who died from cancer last summer, in the friendly dog visitors encounter on the company’s website.
“2008 wasn’t a good time to start a business,” Yacovelli said. “But there’s never going to be a good time. You’ll always find an excuse not to do this, but put that aside. Whether it’s the economy, or your own limited finances – just put that all aside and just do it.”
Access to startup capital has been a historic problem for minority business owners. The Federal Reserve Banks reported in 2018 that limited access to credit was a “compounding factor that hurts the underlying health of minority-owned small businesses.”
Many, like Yacovelli, turn to personal funds to get their dream off the ground.
“I was self-funded,” Yacovelli said. “But on the advice of a friend, I took out one small business loan. And thank goodness I did, because I had an established relationship with a bank when COVID hit.”
During the height of the pandemic, the Paycheck Protection Program was administered through banks, limiting access to the survival funding, according to a Brookings Institute report in 2020.
Brookings also pointed out that closing the financial and other disparities could add millions more new small businesses to the U.S. economy and with them more jobs.
The National LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce states LGBTQ-owned businesses contribute more than $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and in 2015 more than 900 certified LGBTQ-owned businesses created more than 33,000 jobs across the country.
But pandemic challenges continue.
“In the years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ+ businesses have faced severe financial challenges and many are at risk of permanently closing,” Zack Hasychak, Director of Membership Outreach at the Human Rights Campaign, told the Blade.
To help LGBTQ businesses, HRC teamed up with Showtime to start their “Queer to Stay” initiative. For two years the partnership awarded funds to 30 LGBTQ-owned businesses across the country and has committed to supporting at least 25 businesses this round.
Applications are accepted via their website until Aug. 31.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is also shining a spotlight on LGBTQ-owned small businesses.
SBA Deputy Press Director Cecelia Taylor told the Blade about the Elevating Small Business webinar series in June that celebrated LGBTQ small businesses across the country while focusing on financial wellness and the importance of equity and opportunity.
“Equity is a top priority for me and for the Biden-Harris administration, and we believe all of America’s entrepreneurs deserve a level playing field, regardless of zip code, race, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman in a Pride month statement.
“During COVID, we’ve learned how critical equitable access is to surviving and thriving, and at the SBA we are working to build better connections to and for the 1.4 million LGBTQ+ owned businesses in communities across this country,” Guzman said.
Still, Yacovelli emphasized the need for the federal government to step up and make the process of procuring contracts easier.
“The federal government is the largest opportunity for contracts,” he said. “Yet, the process to get them is insanely hard. That’s a missed opportunity.”
Yacovelli said it took a week away from his business to complete a “dissertation-type application” only to have it “go into a black hole” without any feedback.
“It was for diversity training for 911 operators,” he said, stunned by why he didn’t hear back about his application. “Coach me so I can make the application better. It took us a week to get this packet done, and that’s a week I didn’t work on any client proposals.”
But despite challenges, Top Dog grew to exceed its pre-pandemic levels, making 2021 its best year to date.
“Are gay leaders better?” asked Yacovelli who literally wrote the book on “Pride Leadership,” which has been widely praised as influential by multiple business and political leaders. “Of course we are! We’re fabulous. I looked at my queer siblings in leadership roles and moving our community forward in areas of equality and justice. They exercise competencies all leaders could use.”
“You play with a lot of leaders in my business,” Yacovelli, a.k.a “The Gay Leadership Dude,” told the Blade. “You start to see patterns of behaviors for leaders that are crushing it and those that are crashing and burning.”
In his book “Pride Leadership,” Yacovelli combines academic insights gained though his doctorate in education and his years as a corporate leader to identify six leadership traits: being authentic, leading with courage, having empathy, effective communication, building relationships, and influencing organizational culture.
Yacovelli pointed out that the LGBTQ coming out process also involves using these leadership skills to navigate that tough line between being authentic and respecting the feelings and experiences of others.
“You have those difficult conversations. You’re having empathy for yourself and for the person receiving the news for the first time,” he said. “That one experience can be translated into leadership courage, and those traits are the foundation for a really effective leader.”
He stated that for trans siblings to live their lives authentically is powerful, and to channel that energy into a leadership role is using their “rainbow superpowers.”
“And we freakin’ need it now more than ever,” he added.
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