Chrsitmas cheerSeems gay really does mean happy this holiday season, as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgendered community may be among the jolliest of Americans. According to a poll by Harris Interactive, this group is more optimistic about the pending financial recovery, with 34% saying they expect the economy to get better in the next six months, compared to 17% of heterosexual households.

The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive and Witeck Combs Communications, a partnership that specializes in research and marketing to the LGBT community. This is a group long considered to have higher disposable income than the general population and this new study does little to dispel that.
"It's not that they're wealthier, but that they have more discretionary income," says Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs Communications. It's just that in the last six months they have been constantly more optimistic than heterosexuals."

Approximately 29% of LGBT adults say they plan to spend more this holiday than last, compared to just 9% of heterosexual adults. And, 45% of LGBT adults plan to spend more this year than last on immediate family members, compared to 18% of heterosexual adults; 31% of LGBT adults say they plan to spend more on close friends, compared to 8% of non‐LGBT adults; and 31% of LGBT adults plan to spend more on extended family, compared to only 5% of heterosexual adults.

Why? The study doesn't hazard a guess. It's just a poll and one in a series designed to help marketers, retailers and manufacturers make business decisions. But numbers in a vacuum are just numbers. A very informal poll among lesbian and gay friends yielded some pretty different answers.

One wished she could have some of that optimism, since both she and her partner work for a city with forced unpaid furlough days and pension uncertainty. Another was actually more pessimistic than many heterosexuals, saying the burden of not being able to marry and share health expenses was more onerous for LBGT's than heterosexuals.

But one eschewed to the premise that since LGBT's are less likely to have children, the stress of financial uncertainty is simply less. It doesn't eliminate it, but comparatively it's less terrifying to face financial hardship when you're not worrying about little mouths to feed, clothe, shelter or educate.

It's easy to get insulted by surveys like this one, that seem to paint a diverse group with a very broad brush. It's just a survey. And it's measuring optimism and intent. Maybe it's just as simple as gay really does mean fun.

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