Simon Williamson, columnist with Georgia Voice

Simon Williamson: Pink dollars and averages

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.