It’s a fact: according to SAGE, the Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders, 50% of single gays say they will have to work well beyond the normal retirement age of 65 as compared to just 27% of single str8s.
As someone who semi-retired to Florida at 55, l have to ask the question.
Are more gays discriminated against in the workplace because of their sexual orientation? Or like some str8’s, had a string of bad luck, like medical problems that drained them dry, or working for companies that went bankrupt, or getting laid off in their fifties with comparable job opportunities almost non-existent, forcing them to go through their retirement savings?
Sure, these reasons could account for some of this disparity. But not a 2 to 1 ratio.
Having been a professional gay man since l was 21 and a long-time observer of the scene, l think the reasons are two-fold:
Some gays with good paying jobs piss their good fortune away on tech toys. travel and good times (which could include alcohol and drugs) and/or
Some gays, even if they possess the smarts, lack the ambition or drive to deal with the business world and instead mire in schlock jobs (schlock is New Yorkesee for shit) like retail, bartending, waiting tables or playing masseurs or personal trainers, anything that doesn’t require much brain power, as long as they have enough $$ to pArty, play and pay the rent on an apartment they share with three other roommates. These are often the arrogant guys with big egos and big ideas who talk on a grand scale about the business they’re going to start or career they’re going to launch but, in the end, never walk the talk. Because if you’ve worked in the business or professional world, you know that no matter who you are, including the CEO – you have to take and eat a lot of shit (even Jesus had to take shit from his Big Daddy God), something these guys, I guess coddled by their mommies when they’re were tykes, refuse to do.
(Sure there are str’8’s that fit these same descriptions but apparently not in the numbers that gays do.)
Take Justin, a friend of mine married – to a woman – but fucking around with men all his life who had a string of successful businesses but blew his wealth on Jags, trips to Japan, homes in high rent districts or hot vacation spots, and fancy dinner parties with two hundred dollar bottles of wine for his fair weather friends until his love for booze put him under. By 65 he was broke, living in a studio apartment here in Lauderdale, facing early dementia and life in a Medicaid nursing home till a fatal heart attack offered him an easy way out.
Or Pete who bragged to me he was one of the actors screwing around in the trucks off West Street in NYC’s Village in a scene from “The Detective,” Frank Sinatra’s 1968 movie about homophobia. His show biz career went nowhere, and while possessing a genius IQ of 140 and committing himself to gay activism, Pete never worked at more than minimum wage jobs mostly in New York. He was shocked at 62 to find that he would only receive six hundred bucks a month from Social Security.
Or Phil who had a top draw job in Madison Avenue advertising but traveled his money away and who, now at 75, is bagging at Whole Foods to pay his rent.
So when l hear these millennium boys in the gym or the bars drool on about their next Bearfest in Montreal or RSVP cruise to Tahiti, guys who serve my veal parmigiana dinner at Olive Garden and will not benefit from a pension or healthy Social Security check like l do, l don’t have to ask why.
I know why.