“Gay liberation? I ain’t against it… it’s just that there’s nothing in it for me.” — Bette Davis

Women and MoneyOver a year ago I wrote a post about how I loved hearing the “born-agains” go on and on about following the advice of Suze Orman. Those of us with gaydar have known for years that she was a bona fide lesbian.

The haircut was the first clue… all “golf lesbians” that I know wear that style, plus if you poke around the scrapbook section of her web site it was easy to figure out that she had a “partner” and a knack for sporting visors as a fashion accessory. Trust me; straight women do not wear visors unless they’re playing the back nine on a windy day.

So the news certainly wasn’t a surprise, but it was finally official when Suze came out of the closet on Sunday in The New York Times magazine. Jim at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity provided some humor from the personal finance blogosphere. He writes, “They mention that she has a female life partner and has never been with a man (as if that has any bearing on her credibility when it comes to personal finance advice, I have a female life partner, I’ve never been with a man, and you all still read my blog).”

Most queers are applauding her coming out as a brave step and I’m sure she’s probably already been slated for the cover of The Advocate magazine. If she’s smart and she is, then she’ll leverage the buzz and that’s good for the queer community. So at first glance, hurray for Suze! But at the same time, I believe her fessing up is long overdue.

This is my opinion (and it is categorized above as such): some might comment that this post is just a rant about celebrity and what if anything, does it have to do with money? But her coming out has everything to do with money.

Suze is 55 years old. She’s written dozens of books including five consecutive New York Times bestsellers. She’s been with Kathy Travis, her life-partner for seven years. People, listen up… seven years! She hasn’t been famous for much longer than that. Wasn’t The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom published in 2000?

So the entire time that she’s been building the brand of Suze, she’s been in a committed and hopefully loving relationship. And yet all these years, she pretended to be the single, empowered woman. Yes, she’s a powerhouse (and an empowered woman), but why did she have to pretend to be the straight single gal making it on her own?

I can guarantee that she was counseled by her publisher and executive producer for years to be discreet about her lifestyle. Believe me, Anderson Cooper will not be busting out of the closet anytime soon for the same reason: his career is still full throttle.

Last week on NPR, Frank Deford had an excellent commentary about why John Amaechi remained in the closet during his NBA-playing days. He reports, “Why do so many gay male athletes keep their sexual orientation a secret? Is it a fear of teammates, or of public reaction?”

It all boils down to money and earning potential in their prime. I would suspect that Suze felt and feels the same way. So why has Suze decided to come out now? With $25 million in the bank, she has her nest egg tucked away and it doesn’t matter if she alienates her base. At the same time, this opens up a new niche for Suze… I bet she’s already working on a book called Queers & Money! And yes, of course I’ve already inquired if she’ll consider being interviewed for our Ten Money Questions series. Let’s see if being “family” still has any clout.

As a lesbian, I’m thrilled that she finally came out. However, she stayed in the closet because of what it meant to her pocketbook or wallet or whatever she might be carrying these days. I end with a quote from Suze’s web site: “People first, then money, then things.”

Sound the trumpets: It’s nice to know there’s authenticity now attached to those words. Better late than never!

Be sure and catch Paula’s post, John’s post and Rich’s post on Suze Orman coming out.