Pride Month is a time of celebration and reflection, recognizing all we have accomplished in our community over more than 50 years, and preparing for the significant work we have ahead of us.
Pride Month is also an important moment to consider the financial needs of the LGBTQ community, which despite meaningful progress, still add to complexity in financial planning.
First, dispelling a myth. Popular culture often features the gay or lesbian power couple — high-earning duos in glamorous coastal cities with no child-care expenses and a flawless collection of stemware. These couples surely exist but can distract from the true experience of the vast majority of our community.
The reality is more nuanced and influences one’s financial planning and progress to life milestones. While our community is exceptionally diverse and each person’s life path is unique, here are some of the more common considerations in LGBTQ financial planning that an experienced, empathetic financial professional can address:
LGBTQ individuals may have faced limited employment options or serious setbacks. Although workplace cultures have improved, there are still many fields that are now, or have been, less welcoming or even hostile. Until 2020, in fact, it was still legal in more than half of the United States to fire someone for LGBTQ status. These realities can have long-term impacts on earnings and savings and are exacerbated particularly for trans people and LGBTQ people of color.
Growing families can mean growing costs. Nearly 15% of same-sex couples now have at least one child in the home, and built those families through many means, not all inexpensive. Couples or individuals who choose to have children may face additional medical costs. They may need to finance $15,000-$40,000 for adoption, with some estimates up to $70,000. The cost of surrogacy can easily exceed six figures. These can be significant expenses to factor into a financial plan.
Those without children face special costs too. Adult children may provide a wide range of “unpaid services” to aging parents, everything from transportation to in-home care. LGBTQ individuals and couples without a similar support system may need to plan for additional expenses as they age.
LGBTQ population centers tend to be costly. While our community is found in nearly every corner of the country, many of us have chosen to settle in urban locations for community, health care and, in some cases, personal safety. These locations often come at a premium price. Relocating to lower-cost areas may feel like an impossible option.
Health-care costs can present financial challenges. While many straight and cisgender Americans also struggle with health-care costs, our community does face a higher probability of expenses for long-term HIV care, mental health services and gender-affirming treatment.
Marriage equality is still in its infancy. The Supreme Court established our right to marry in 2015, but the benefits of marriage were not retroactive. Many couples faced years —even decades — of disadvantaged tax, estate planning and health-care structures. These inequities can have long-term impacts on financial well-being and retirement readiness.
Marriage is also a choice. Some people may choose not to marry, despite the potential financial advantages, for an array of valid reasons. A financial professional can help you to optimize your financial strategy with whatever way you decide is right for you and your partner or partners.
Money is not the only motivation. Our community as a whole is noteworthy for its volunteerism, its social advocacy, its commitment to the arts and other elements of living a life of purpose. These interests are also important to weave into a holistic plan.
That’s a lot, I know. But don’t let it overwhelm your Pride Month cheer! There’s no financial challenge that a solid financial plan can’t help to take the edge off, or even solve for, with confidence.
Michael Gannon is head of enterprise marketing at Equitable and executive sponsor of Equitable’s Pride Employee Resource Group. He lives with his husband in Somerville, Mass. Michael may be contacted at [email protected].