It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single gay man in possession of an income must be in search of a commodity upon which to expend it. Even more so the gay male couple.

Somewhere in the mid-1980s the idea started to get about that gays (men in particular) were a ‘high disposable income’ group. That they had money and liked to spend it. The source of this idea was the gay media, who had worked out that, in order to keep publishing, they needed income. (This was not a widely held idea in the 1970s, as a result of which most gay papers of the time went to the wall pretty quick-smart.) And while the personals were a nice little earner, the obvious source of big bucks was advertisers.

Before you knew it, we were being touted as being, in the words of one commentator, ‘as numerous as rabbits, as rich as Rockefellers, as educated as Einstein and as free with their money as Eddy and Pats’. Starting with the gay venues and ‘the less savoury end of the sex-related industry’ (the role of porn video advertising in funding the expansion of the gay press in the 1980s can hardly be overestimated), restaurants and catering, then publishing and travel, and finally real estate and residential development all piled onto the bandwagon.

Today we continue our role as trendsetters to the world. In the 1970s, the gay and lesbian community gave us disco. In the 1980s, designer drugs. Today it is the wine cooler revival. At last something our mums can thank us for!

Brought to you by the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives

Posted in History Bites.