Queer Luxuries

Suze Ormann, The Lesbian High Priestess of Finance urges us all to have “the courage to be rich” (!) but let’s face it; courage is probably not going to propel most of us down the yellow-brick road to wealth in today’s world of vast economic inequalities.

I actually have one of Suze’s books sitting on my desk, her gleaming white smile reminding me that financial freedom is just around the corner if only I could get my shit together and actually do one single thing she recommends!* But it’s all so desperately dreary. Debt, savings, retirement, insurance, wills. There’s a reason I didn’t go to law school, clearly!

Perhaps because of my own less than stellar record with regard to financial (a-hem) planning, The Advocate’s Oct. 21 cover story, “The Cost of Being Gay,” caught my eye. With the economy bottoming out, author John Cloud asks, can you afford to be gay? Cloud’s lead-in: “We all agree that sexual orientation isn’t just about whom you sleep with but how much of your identity is tied up in the things you have to buy (not to mention the price you’re willing to pay for them).” Read the rest of the article here. And surprise! The cover image is a photo of a white gay man. Who could have predicted it?

Given the recent posts I’ve read on several sites (my own included) about ways to be frugal and fabulous, I think a lot of us are asking these questions and trying to reconsider the consumer-oriented definition of being gay/queer/lesbian that, quite frankly, magazines like The Advocate have been promoting ever since I can remember.

Is queerness a luxury accessory to be bought and sold?
Does wealth/racial/gender privilege transform ordinary homos into A-list power gays or uber queers?
Do these issues play out differently for gays and lesbians, butches and femmes?
What’s a progressively-minded and fashion-forward femme to do???

*A Note, Genteel Reader:
Yes, Sublimefemme really does curse like a sailor. In the future, I will make every effort to restrict my profane outbursts to desperate situations only–animal cruelty, shoe envy, and beauty products confiscated at airport security checks.

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4 Responses

  1. I’ll take on the first question. I don’t think queerness is a luxury accessory. But this is affected by my being in university where we’re queer on the cheap, if you will. Being in school, it is about your choice in sexual and romantic partners instead of about what you own. It must be nice to be vapidly shallow enough to only worry about material possessions instead of the freedom to just be queer.

    Of course with the above you also have to keep in mind that I think consumerism is a cancer in general.

    Welcome, Lucy! I’m a fan of pro-sex feminist socialist femme transdyke bloggers, so I’m glad you found me. As tempting as it might be to deride the vapidity of some hyperconsumerist gays, I think it’s worth remembering that this trend is certainly not unique to queer culture; all Americans define who we are through what we buy, right? -SF

  2. Is queerness a luxury accessory to be bought and sold?
    not necessarily, but i think it tends to be. as Lucy says, it’s fairly easy to be “queer on the cheap” in academia, but academia is still a luxury in itself. anyhow, all identities (especially in our current culture) are in part accessories to be bought and sold – all the more so if people are trying to make their identity visible.

    Does wealth/racial/gender privilege transform ordinary homos into A-list power gays or uber queers?
    yes. hence the white gay man, and the right-wing theory that us gays are made of money (’cause ordinary homos aren’t newsworthy)

    Do these issues play out differently for gays and lesbians, butches and femmes?
    all of these groups have some (and some different) privilege, so if the previous one is true, then yes, though it could be in a million different ways. off the cuff: the wage gap between men and women is amplified between gay and lesbian couples (assuming two earners); the “man as breadwinner” social expectation typically results in men having much stronger emotional fallout from bad economic situations than women, and it’s possible (likely?) that this would extend to butches

    What’s a progressively-minded and fashion-forward femme to do???
    are these not the secrets of sublime femmeness we were here to learn? (oh my, i didn’t intend to write a little essay in response!)

  3. Thank you for the warm welcome, SF. I wasn’t trying to imply that vapid hyperconsumerism is somehow specific to queer culture. In fact, I think many queers may be immune to it because they’re too busy being poor and just getting by to be able to participate. It’s kind of strange being a femme transdyke, because I’m confronted with two different forms of consumerism: surgery/cosmetic procedures and cosmetics and clothes. And, yeah, all Americans do define themselves by what they buy, because otherwise we’re un-American. And no one wants to be un-American.

    Oh, and I should own my academia privilege. Getting out of the working world allowed me to start being true to myself and my beliefs, a luxury I didn’t have before.

    One of my concerns with being femme is that at times it does feel like I define myself more by my purchases more than my attitude. But clothes do make the woman. I’m more confident in femme wear than I am as a t-shirts and jeans androdyke. Still, it’s a struggle.

    Thanks for sharing and clarifying, Lucy. Any plans to write about trans medicalized consumerism on your blog? If so, I’d love to read about your experience/perspective.

    We femmes often talk about femme invisibility, but the most invisible queers of all may be those who’re poor. Based on what you see in the media, you would think that all queers are Prada-wearing artistic-creative types! -SF

  4. I finally got off my butt and posted about trans-consumerism on my blog, so, yes, I have plans to post about it. 😉 I’ll probably post more as my thoughts are still gelling on the issue, and I’m hoping I’ll get some feedback to provoke more thought.

    And, yeah, I think the most invisible queers are the poor. It’s gotta be terribly annoying to look at rich femmes and think, “There but for lack of wealth go I in Prada!”

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