There are a lot of things you get to choose in life: the books you read, the friends you have and the way you act.
But there’s a one big thing you can’t choose: who you love.
When I fell in love with my fiancee, I knew my life was going to change. I had found my best friend and perfect match. But my life changed in different ways as well. We’re a same-sex couple, and the world isn’t designed for us.
I was forced to learn how to navigate a world that wasn’t built for same-sex couples. A large part of that was learning what it was like to come out again and again and again. From well-meaning colleagues who ask about my “boyfriend” to wedding vendors who inquire about the “groom,” there’s an endless barrage of misunderstandings and assumptions.
It’s a small price to pay for a lifetime with my favorite person. But what about the actual costs associated with being queer? Outside of the social dance we do to establish our queer identity, what is it like to navigate money as a queer person?
Four queer people from around the country break down how they handle money as a queer person:
- The Price of Feeling Safe
“As a lesbian in a smaller Midwestern city, I definitely feel like I pay more for rent than other people. Honestly, I don’t feel safe living anywhere other than downtown, which is the most expensive place. My girlfriend and I have been harassed a few times when we were walking to our car late at night in other parts of the city. Men were shouting homophobic slurs at us and it sucked. We pay $1,000 for our 1-bedroom apartment downtown with a parking garage. Some of friends pay $500 for a 1-bedroom apartment in other parts of the city. It sucks to pay so much more, but I guess it is what it is.”
— Sarah, 25
- Medical Necessities
“As a transgender man, there are SO many extra costs. I honestly can’t even think about it too much or I’ll get upset. If your insurance doesn’t cover top surgery, it can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $9,000. And even if your insurance does cover some of it, there are typically co-pays or other fees. I haven’t decided what route I’m going yet, but I’m starting to save already, just in case.”
— Jake, 23
- Staying Quiet
“I don’t know if this count as an actual cost, but I’m not out at work as gay. I work for a religious non-profit and I have no idea if they would try to fire me if they knew. So I guess the price I’m paying is being quiet about myself and my boyfriend. If I get fired, the price would be my whole salary…so yeah, a pretty high price. I’m looking for other jobs though. So fingers crossed.”
— Tim, 25
“The thing that stresses me out the most about being gay and money is the price of getting pregnant. I’m not ready to have a baby yet, but I know that when I do, it will cost upwards of $10,000 for my wife and I to attempt to get pregnant. It can potentially cost a whole lot more. I know a lot of people from all sexual identities struggle with fertility issues, but knowing that it’s an inevitable expense for us, is pretty stressful. Adoption is expensive too, so there’s not really an easy answer.”
— Jane, 25
Being queer is not the norm in our society, which means it comes with added costs. Those can be financial, emotional, or both. Living in a world that’s not built for you means extra thought and purpose goes into each decision. And yes, sometimes navigating money as a queer person sometimes means paying more for things.
Taylor is a twenty-something life enthusiast who is obsessed with personal finance. After paying off $14,000 of student loans in 7 months (which was brutal), she got serious about finding a balance between planning for the future and having fun in the present. She lives in Southern California with her fiancee Alex and their cat, Cheddar. She blogs at The Freedom From Money.