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What is Pink Money?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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The term “pink money” is used to refer to the purchasing power of the gay and lesbian community. In addition to being powerful economically, pink money can also potentially be powerful politically, with pink money donations influencing the outcome of political campaigns. Thanks to the active gay rights movement, many businesses and politicians are aware of the power of pink money, and some go out of their ways to cater to this coveted demographic, as some gay and lesbian couples have substantial disposable income.

Depending on where you live, you may hear a number of aliases used to describe pink money, including the pink dollar, pink pound, or Dorothy dollar. The “pink” references the pink triangle which has become an icon of the gay rights movement, thanks to the fact that it was used as a badge in Nazi concentration camps to identify homosexuals. When the gay rights community became more active, it decided to reclaim the symbol as an easily recognized emblem. The “Dorothy” in “Dorothy dollar” is a reference to the American euphemism “friend of Dorothy” which is sometimes used to identify members of the gay community.

The market power of pink money is constantly growing, in part thanks to the fact that the gay rights movement has made it much easier for many gay couples to be open about their sexuality. In some communities, there is an active effort to patronize gay-friendly businesses, with gay and lesbian couples choosing to avoid businesses which take an anti-gay stance. Many businesses have wised up to this fact, and a range of companies from automakers to pet stores actively court the gay and lesbian market.

Wealthy gay and lesbian couples without children may also travel a great deal, using their relative freedom and large dual incomes to engage in various travel adventures. Numerous airlines, destination resorts, and other travel-related businesses vie for pink money, in the hopes that it will provide a steady and reliable source of income.

In politics, pink money is a growing chunk of the pie when it comes to political contributions. Wealthy gay and lesbian couples are often politically active, and they flock to candidates who support equal rights for gays and lesbians. Members of the gay and lesbian community may also unite to throw support behind a single candidate in the hopes of defeating an anti-gay candidate, using their economic clout to influence the campaign.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon1003987 — On Oct 21, 2020

This is crap. I’ve been aware of my lesbianism before I knew what it was called and I’m 60. I’ve been an activist, worked in marketing/communications and immersed in pop culture. This homophobic term is made-up crap, only possibly useful for lazy marketers. It was not inspired by pink triangles of the Holocaust and it’s stupidly offensive to make that claim. Rather, it was inspired by the homophobic link to a color perceived and stereotyped as effeminate.

The color pink is well established as the breast cancer awareness color and all the corporate pink-washing that accompanies it. For our economic power, call it gay dollars, lavender bucks or whatever.

By letshearit — On Aug 02, 2011

For those that think corporations are just catering to the gay and lesbian community for their pink money you are spot on in my opinion. While there are individuals within the communication that may feel strongly about supporting a community they care about, for the most part corporations just want more money and they will say anything to get it.

I think people get too caught up in corporate images and all of the PR speak that they feed us. Corporations are around for the sole purpose of making cash for shareholders, who they cater or fib to to get their funds is irrelevant in the bigger picture. Targeting pink money is no different for a corporation than going after the tween market or 20-something single females.

By lonelygod — On Aug 02, 2011

With the number of states moving towards legalizing gay marriage it will be interesting to see how many companies start targeting those with substantial pink money to spend. A lot of what comes with marriage is that big thrill of planning for a wedding. I doubt that gay couples will be immune to the urge to spend for all the little extras to celebrate their special day.

I really think that this kind of specialization is great for the gay community and that more companies should work at targeting this demographic if they want to see their profits increase. There is nothing wrong with supporting those that want to celebrate their newly legal unions.

By turquoise — On Aug 01, 2011

@anamur-- I don't agree with you about corporations that cater to pink money not caring about gay rights at all. I think they do, because these corporations also support political candidates that support gay rights like the article mentioned. What else can they possibly do to support gays other than catering to their needs and helping them gain leeway in their social and political movement?!

They really do support gays. Even if the individuals that are heading these corporations don't really care about gay rights, they are doing gays and lesbians a huge service by associating with them publicly, don't you think?

So I really don't agree with you at all. I think that pink money has been a huge factor with the gay movement in the U.S. and it is benefiting the cause greatly. I think that gays and lesbians should continue to work with these corporations, they are not being cheated. And corporations that feel close to gays and lesbians should continue to market to pink money because it is helping both the corporation and the economy to grow.

By Monika — On Aug 01, 2011

@KaBoom - I saw that episode too!

I think in certain areas it's really smart to market to the "pink money" crowd. For example, I used to live really close to the arts district in the city. This also happened to be where a lot of members of the gay community lived. I don't think a business would have lasted too long their if it wasn't pink market friendly!

By KaBoom — On Jul 31, 2011

This article reminds me of the "Sex and the City" episode with what the writers called the "power lesbians." In the episode, Charlotte, who runs an art gallery, features a display of artwork by a woman is also happens to be a lesbian.

Her artwork is popular in the "pink" market, so Charlotte is introduced to a lot of the New York gay community at the opening. She also discovers their purchasing power when most of the paintings sell out on the first night!

By serenesurface — On Jul 31, 2011

@alisha-- I do agree with some of your points. I think that these corporations don't really care about equal rights for gays or support gay marriage. I think they just want money! So they make it look like they are supporting the gay movement to attract the money.

It's really a shame because I think gays are really preferring these corporations for the support, not the products or the services. I think they are being cheated.

By discographer — On Jul 30, 2011

I read somewhere that gays and lesbians make more money annually than straight men and women. I'm not too sure about this, I think they would make about the same, but it's definitely true that gay and lesbian couples have more money to spend for luxury goods and services. Most gay and lesbian couples usually don't have children and the expenses that come with caring for them. And many straight couples might opt for the woman not to work to care for children so there might be less income coming in when compared to gay and lesbian couples as well.

I'm not surprised that corporations are trying to attract whats called "pink money." I think they do this to every group from whom they can financially benefit. The only difference between children's marketing and gay marketing is the fact that there is a whole equal rights movement associated with pink money.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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