From Prada to Mercedes and Cancun to Miami – the annual worldwide purchasing power of the gay community is reaching into the trillions of dollars. According to a recent study conducted by the BBC, Pink Money is one of the fastest emerging markets in the world, especially in the consumer spending and travel industries.
As gays and lesbians achieve equality in the workforce, our organizational skills, impressive work ethics and just plain fabulous demeanor is meriting promotions around the globe. With two-income households and no children to suck up the extra funds – the Pink Dollar is being sought after by corporations large and small. From Oreo to Microsoft and Apple to Marriott, everyone wants a piece of the queer pie. It’s estimated, by the same study, that more than 10 percent of all the travel industry funds are spent by gays and lesbians.
We eat out more, we buy more clothes, we travel more, we decorate more and we simply fund the economy more. And win, lose or draw in November, people are starting to notice. Whether the country swings to the left or to the right, this is a landmark year for gay rights. We have a sitting president endorsing marriage equality and a Republican challenger that for the first time in a decade hasn’t made gay marriage a top campaign issue.
Even locally, the climate is changing. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Peter Cooke has been reamed on message boards and in editorial pages for not being a more ardent supporter of queer rights. Salt Lake County Mayor has one of the biggest advocates for gay rights in the state on the Democratic ticket and we have nearly two dozen municipalities protecting against bias in the workplace and housing.
Sure, there’s still plenty of room to grow and rights to obtain – but what a landmark year of illustrating how much progress we’ve made. This winter we’ll face, yet again, one of the most conservative legislatures in the nation while trying to push through a statewide nondiscrimination law. With three-fourths of Utahns backing the measure and bi-partisan support, it could be our year to increase protections for the LGBT community around the state. As we continue to shop at our local stores and eat at our local diners and restaurants (see the included dining guide), our community is coming out as a strong, political and economic force that simply can’t be ignored.