Put your money where your mouth is
August 17, 2012 | 11:00 am
(Updated: February 25, 2013 | 1:20 pm)
Preparing for a trip with my “wusband-to-be,” she innocently pulled out a roll of NECCO Wafers for a little sweet treat before our flight. I grabbed them from her hand saying “Don’t you remember? They don’t like us” (pointing to myself and then her).
“Who, brown people?” she asked. “No, gay people,” I said. “Remember, this is that family that makes those Valentine conversation hearts and they have been very vocal about their beliefs against homosexuality.”
“Oh OK Baby,” she said, frowning, “I won’t buy them anymore.”
I’m extraordinarily opinionated, in case some of you didn’t know. I have no compunction about expressing those opinions. This is my opinion about spending: Put your money where your heart is … or not. It’s your choice.
I remember when I first came out. My then-girlfriend and I took our first vacation together, P-town. I bought t-shirts and buttons, everything gay I could find. I even bought a rubber stamp with the words “Gay Money.”
I remember thinking it was one of the best ideas ever. I loved imagining who would get the bills I had stamped. Would it make someone smile? Would someone, offended by the notion of touching my “gay” $5 bill, be bold enough to return it? I loved the idea of making a political statement from a distance with a total stranger. At one point, this very $5 bill was possessed by a queer person. Cooties on you!
My favorite fantasy was imagining some homophobe wanting to get rid of it but too worried to spend it in case someone would think they were the gay one. Maybe she or he gave it to some homeless person. Or burned it.
With our lives constantly streaming on social media, people can quickly learn about companies that support us, or support our detractors. Oreos and Chick-Fil-A come to mind as recent examples. Calls for boycotts almost immediately ensue. People get fired up. I had a huge debate transpire between my Facebook friends after one of my Chick-Fil-A posts. I had one person express that CFA was well within their rights for supporting anti-gay marriage legislation. This is an absolutely true statement.
We too have rights – like the right to choose where our money goes. If money is merely a tool, then we have the right, and I believe obligation, to spend it where our money will be used to build a better LGBT future.
If our community spends so much – $600 billion a year is what I’ve heard – wouldn’t we be best served by putting it in the hands of people who think we’re awesome? They have plenty of help from other people; they don’t need our money too. Your local purveyors of delicious food would truly appreciate your money. And you know they wouldn’t ask you to leave if they saw you kiss your girlfriend. I’m pretty sure they would kick you out – and confiscate your waffle fries – if you did that at some establishments.
I get it, I kinda miss eating waffle fries and I have always loved those sweet messages of love stamped on bite-sized hearts. But my dignity and self-respect are more important to me than feeding my snack tooth. With our economy shifting and people coming to a greater awakening of where and how our money is being used, it is vitally important to put it in the hands of those who stand with us.
I encourage you to look more closely at the advertisers here in Out Front and in other national LGBT publications. These individuals and businesses are spending their money on us. Don’t you think that it’s time we do the same?
So, go find your OFC VIP/QRAVE card or sign up for one. Turn to the page where the QRAVE Program partners are listed and go spend your “BIG GAY” money honey, on the people who love us.