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There’s a myth that the LGBTQ+ community is characterized by high-income earners living it up in the world’s most bougie cities (as Nathan McDermott explored for The Atlantic). Not only is that myth untrue in 2021, it also ignores a persistent pay gap that has its roots in systemic exclusion and discrimination.
To honour Pride Month, we’re highlighting stories from LGBTQ+ icons who found their own ways through a world that was often stacked against them, finding their own paths to the lives they wanted, whether it was by starting a hair studio with a friend, scamming their way onto Broadway, or selling houses in between movie auditions. Yes, they’re not exactly representative of the way most people subject to discrimination live. But they’re inspiring (and they have amazing stories), and remind us to give a hat-tip to the hustle — or, as Shangela would like to remind you, to start giving actual tips to your favourite drag performers!
"My mom always told me 'know your worth.' If I look the part, then the money will come without question."
"Waitress. Makeup artist. Realtor. Dancer. Webmaster. Actor. I've worked every kind of job you can think of. So when I talk about my value you can trust I’m worth every penny."
"I do think that the more sought after I become, the supply and demand thing will have to apply. Time is money, honey."
"I’m still hustling, I’m still touring, I’m still selling my merch. But I'll just tell you this — I sure ain't workin' for a hundred dollars a night no more."
"There’s a thrill to spending your money on yourself. It’s gratifying. And it also means you don’t want to waste it."
"I think that work ethic was really bludgeoned into us. And our parents really made it clear: Never carry debt."
"I think I will always act like a poor person who’s got money because I think it’s better. I’d rather be Molly Brown, from Titanic than Rose’s mom."
"Is money even real? I'm at a place where I don't even know if money is real, the way I see it thrown around."
"This is the first period in my entire life in which I don’t have anxiety about looking at the balance of my checking account."
"Living cheap was a thrifty, fearful, existence. I bought big sacks of potatoes."
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