This Pride Month, let’s think about queers and social class. The recent report, A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits, and More Taxes for LGBT Workers makes clear that even if same sex marriage were supported by the Supreme Court, we’re a long way from what political writer Scott Tucker calls the “equality of kinship.” Equal kinship would mean a fair distribution of money, laws, and other resources to enable people to choose and sustain the relationships we need and want.
Meanwhile, for 40 years gay activism has taken shape amid a period of wealth inequity that would make 19th century robber barons blush. The upshot? Queers are at an economic disadvantage, with little economic voice among power brokers.
The good news is that queer history in the United States speaks to friendships and political work across class lines. Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production returns to those stories and histories to offer a spirited ideological alternative to the idea that queers have made it when we, too, can discriminate economically in league with heterosexuals.
Queer Americans do talk about social class, if you listen, and organize through such groups as Queers for Economic Justice and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Queer class solidarity has begun again—something to celebrate and support this June.
Lisa Henderson is Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Love and Money: Queers, Class, and Cultural Production (NYU Press, 2013).