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How much does it cost to be queer?

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

For LGBTQ History Month, Georgia Wright has written an article about the cost of living for people who identify as queer.

Actually, the question is not ‘how much does it cost to be queer?’ but rather, ‘how much

more does it cost to be queer?’ Well, frankly, the answer is- a lot.

The cost of living in the UK has reached an all time high, with inflation at the highest rate it’s

ever been for 30 years and a record increase in household energy bills.

While we are all facing the effects of the cost of living crisis, we have taken this moment to

reflect on what that crisis may look like if you identify as LGBTQ+.

When we are talking about LGBTQ+ issues, we’re talking about issues of exclusion,

violence, harm, pain and prejudice. We are looking at deep-rooted ancestral trauma,

decades of fighting to be treated equally. Decades of fighting, screaming at the top of our

lungs to be given the same opportunity to thrive as everyone else.

Simply- we have yet to create a society that includes and celebrates queer people in the

same way it does their non-queer counterparts. In truth, we have not yet created a single

society that ceases to tread heavily on those viewed as ‘the other.’

For example, Stonewall’s 2018 LGBT in Britain work report found that approximately one in

five LGBT people (18%) who were looking for work said they were discriminated against

because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity while trying to get a job in 2017.

In addition, more than a third of LGBT people, a staggering 35%, while looking for work were

worried about being discriminated against or harassed, due to their sexual orientation or

gender identity. Not only this, but one in eight black, Asian and ethnic minority LGBT

employees (12%) had lost a job in the last year because of being LGBT, compared to 4% of

white LGBT staff.

Plus, when you throw in a £6,703 pay gap (data from YouGov, LinkedIn and UK Black Pride)

it would seem we have somehow created the perfect recipe for a prejudice and poverty

sandwich- with our LGBTQ+ people slap bang in the middle.

When we discuss the disadvantages people who identify as queer face, the statistics and

stories can become overwhelming. So what if we talk about something a little simpler?

Take the cost of petrol, for example. In the UK, petrol and diesel prices have soared and hit

their highest levels on record. So, naturally, we have seen an increase in the cost of fares

from taxi companies, both major conglomerates and independent firms.

But why is this different for the LGBTQ+ community than everyone else? Well, because, we

get more taxis. And no, it’s not because we’re lazy- it’s because we’re scared.

In a recent Refinery29 article, they tell Tom, a non-binary drag performer’s story. Part of

which focuses on the sheer amount of money they spend on taxis. Tom approximates that

they spend between £150-£200 a month on transport. No, not extravagance- necessity.

In some cases, a lifesaving necessity for Tom and other LGBTQ+ people. This is because

paying for private rides is the only way to ensure they get from A to B safely without, as Tom

tells Refinery29, “being filmed/photographed/laughed at/screamed at/chanted at/physically

avoided/physically threatened for being visibly queer.”

But what happens when, a young LGBTQ+ person, as safe as they are in their taxi- has

nowhere safe to go?

According to Stonewall in 2017: One in 10 LGBT people (10%) who were looking for a

house or flat to rent or buy in the last year were discriminated against because of their

sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There is an extreme lack of safe, affordable accommodation available to those in need,

especially if they are young and LGBTQ+.

Charity AKT works directly with these young people to help them find safe housing and aims

to reduce the recurrence of homelessness amongst the community. According to AKT, 24%

of the youth homeless population in the UK identify as LGBT, and 77% of them believe

coming out to their parents was the main factor in their homelessness.

Carers UK estimates there to be at least 390,000 LGBTQ+ Carers in the UK. 1 in 10 people within the LGBTQ+ community are an unpaid Carer. However, the number of LGBTQ+ Carers who access services for Carers is vastly lower than would be expected. As well as facing higher rates of various health inequalities such as homelessness, domestic abuse, mental health issues and drug/alcohol dependency; the LGBTQ+ Community often experience specific discrimination and marginalisation when accessing health, social care and support services.

So, when we talk about fixing all of these issues- it’s hard to know where to begin.

But I do believe that charity starts at home. At an individual level we can educate ourselves

and the people closest to us. We can become allies. We can create communities in which

everyone is treated equally, learn how to empathise with gender and queer issues. We can

even out the playing field so that we are all able to thrive. I promise you, there is enough to

go round.

At the very least, we can create communities in which anyone can feel safe getting the tube home.

Georgia works for Brixton People’s Kitchen and views represented here are Georgia's own not representative of the company.

Brixton People's Kitchen is an inclusive workplace and venue for people of every background and walk of life.

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