Smart Shopping for the Queer Student

“We believe in putting people first.” – Goodwill

My dear queer children,

I think that individuals from both within and outside of the queer community, havethis stereotype of LGBTQ+ people being fashionable, trend setters, and up-to-date with all the current styles. People will watch Queer Eye or follow LGBTQ+ celebrities and see that they wear cute outfits, live fancy lifestyles, and have their lives together.

However, I don’t think these people see the reality of LGBTQ+ people. Compared to our heterosexual, cisgendered counterparts, our people are more likely to live in poverty. Many in our community are homeless and suffer from food insecurity. Others in our community may be slightly better off, but they still have low incomes and a worse quality of life compared to non-LGBTQ+ people.

As such, I’m sure many of you have felt the pressure to be like these upper class LGBTQ+ people and celebrities, but really can’t afford such luxuries because of systems in place that perpetuate the marginalization of minorities. So, I’ve decided to write on a few ways in which you can wear the styles you want and have a better quality of life in a world that doesn’t seek to elevate the status of our community.

Survival is clearly more important than comfort, so those who have low incomes sacrifice the luxuries of choosing clothing styles that interest them. Unfortunately, non-LGBTQ+ people tend to subtly criticize LGBTQ+ individuals for not wearing outfits that don’t make them look “queer enough.” So before I give this first piece of advice, I want you to know that you don’t have to look “queer enough” for anyone, and you certainly don’t need to follow any styles that other LGBTQ+ people follow. This next tip is really for you to have clothing options and are able to have a greater selection to choose from. It is not to manipulate you into wearing “current” styles.

The first tip I have is probably one of common knowledge: check out your local thrift stores! I think a popular classist narrative is that clothes at thrift stores are gross and disgusting, when in reality, these clothes are truly just clean clothes that have been worn before. There’s really nothing wrong with them, and thrift stories do inspect clothing before putting it out for sale. In fact, you can find some quality clothing at thrift stores for prices that are much cheaper than the same clothes at higher end stores. Also, thrift stores may have deals and sales that you can ask about, and sometimes you can even inquire about reducing the price of clothes that you are interested in.

Also, consider checking out your local non-profit LGBTQ+ organizations. LGBTQ+ people and LGBTQ+ allies often donate their clothes to these groups. These clothes mostly go untouched, and after a period of time, there organizations take the clothes to thrift stores such as Goodwill. See if you can check out the clothes at these organizations. If you can, I encourage you to look through them and see if any interest you! They are usually washed before they are donated, but if you do take any clothes with you, be sure to wash them just in case, as the LGBTQ+ organizations may have different regulations when it comes to accepting clothing donations.

I also want to caution you about shopping at popular retailers. Even though they may seem to have cute clothes and even LGBTQ+-themed clothing, these retailers often show their support for the LGBTQ+ community when it’s convenient and profitable. For example, you’ll see a lot of Pride merchandise come from these stores before, during, and after June, but you won’t see it the rest of the year. Also, you often won’t hear them supporting our community when our community comes under attack. Did you hear any popular retailers speak out against the Trump administrations’ attack on transgender lives through changes to Title IX? I sure didn’t. So please just be mindful of shopping at popular clothing stores.

Another tip I have for you is to use apps such as PocketPoints that will give you points for every minute that you are on campus and that you have your phone locked. The purpose of the app is to help you study by having your phone locked. You can use the points you earn for coupons and discounts for food, clothes, and other stores. Here’s a list of apps that help students save money.

Also, if you have the ability to store food where you are living, take advantage of farmers markets in your area. Their prices are usually cheaper than grocery stores, and you can really get a lot for your dollar. I was able to serve breakfast to a group of my friends for less than $10 (I already had the seasoning and necessary cooking appliances and tools available to me, though). I made roasted potatoes with vegetables, bacon, and eggs for about eight people, so take advantage of those farmers markets.

In short, I’ve found that it’s always best to save money by shopping local; your thrift stores, farmers markets, and local shops are all great resources for you to save money. Corporations and popular retailers may always advertise great deals to help you save money, but in reality, these deals are designed to draw you in and make you spend more money than you actually want. Just be mindful of this the next time you go out and shop.

That’s all for this blog post. As always, please let me know if you would like me to write on a specific topic. I am always a resource for you.

Until next time,

Love, Your Gay Godparent,

Joe

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