Why I Pride: Confessions of a LGBT Dad
By Greg Fields
George Orwell’s 1984 is the unquestioned (un)Holy Grail of cautionary fiction. Between naps in tenth grade English, you’ll remember protagonists Winston and Julia are arrested, tortured and brainwashed for having an unsanctioned affair. Their crime? The totalitarian state of Oceania prohibits the most natural of all instincts between human beings: romantic love.
Less than two decades after 1984’s publication, fourteen gay men and women were beaten and arrested by undercover LA cops at Silverlake’s Black Cat Café. Their crime? “Lewd behavior”, aka same-sex kissing. No really; kissing! And let’s not forget: being publicly arrested and “outed” as LGBT in 1967 was a one-way ticket to a ruined life. Double-plus bad.
This is not to suggest we are living in a Big Brother state. Gay people aren’t being threatened with having their faces devoured by hungry rats (then again…). But in this month of Pride, it’s important to appreciate just how recent and fragile LGBT rights are. As I write this, one small town, small-minded Alabama Mayor is openly advocating “killing” LGBTs in a social media post.
WHAT A DRAG
My argument here is not political; it’s personal. Last year, over a bowl of ramen, my thirteen-year-old son eyed me and his mother and proclaimed, “OK! I’m gay!” This was not exactly a surprise. My son wore dresses and read fairy books. He was obsessed with drag queens and Project Runway. Duh.
I had already reached out to my LGBT network of friends to ask a lot of dumb questions. They were tolerant of my straightness; I was clueless. But at the moment of my son's outage, my mind raced to 1984 (or maybe something similar to Alabama). I feared my son could become a hate crime statistic.
Fortunately, I had the privilege of working as a consultant for LA Pride a few years before my son came out. This was a revelation for me. The unvarnished joy I witnessed among Pride-goers made me think of Winston and Julia; how they were forced to publicly hide their feelings for one another and leave secret messages for their future rendezvous. Pride was a sanctuary from all that. The hiding, trepidation, and safety calculus LGBTs needed to survive in a straight world was suddenly lifted in one safe space.
That year, gay marriage was not yet the law of the land and was still controversial. That’s when it hit me like a rainbow avalanche: the LGBT struggle wasn’t about ‘lifestyle’ or gender preference, it was about fairness and equality. Why should anyone be denied equal protection or benefits simply because they loved someone of the same gender? It made no sense and it honestly made me mad.
I carried that sense of outrage into my career as a Financial Advisor. At Merrill Lynch, I won special funding to host a first-of-its-kind LGBT financial seminar. At my current firm, Gerber Kawasaki, I was enthusiastically encouraged to take things even further. This month I am launching an investment group designed for the idiosyncratic financial needs of the LGBT community. Another first in finance. Just as with marriage, why should straights get all the goods? Why shouldn’t LGBTs have access to the same high-quality financial advice? Fair with flair.
Straight up: my motives are selfish. I want to make the world a better place for my son. Being an ally in finance is a powerful way to effect that change. The LGBT community is woefully underserved by traditional financial services. It’s as if the Big (Brother) Brokerage/bank culture is trying to talk first round draft picks instead of the round one of RuPaul’s Drag Race. My thinking is if I help LGBTs better manage their money, then they will have more of it. With more discretionary funds, LGBTs will be even more fabulous and empowered. And with power comes the influence to effect sustainable social change.
We’re never going to change the attitudes of small-town Alabama mayors, but we can buy monster speakers, throw an epic Pride party and simply drown them out. Double-plus good!
Greg Fields is a Financial Advisor of Santa Monica, Calif-based Gerber Kawasaki Inc., an SEC-registered investment firm with approximately $859 million in assets under management as of 4/30/19. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which course of action may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Readers shouldn’t buy any investment without doing their own research to determine if the investments are suitable for their situation. “All investments involve risk and one should consult a financial advisor before making any investments. Past performance is not indicative of future results.”