Your Guide to the Target Boycott

Photo courtesy of Facebook's Boycott Target group.

Queercents is not going to get political here. At least, I’m not a fan of being political. I like to stick to the old wisdom that you should never discuss religion or politics unless you want to make quick enemies. But at the same time, the Target boycott is pretty hard to ignore. So rather than stay out of it, here’s your definitive guide to what happened, and the consumer decisions you make.

Matt Baume of the SFist posted an article about Target’s donation of $150,000 to Minnesota Forward, a Republican group that supports Tom Emmer. Tom Emmer is a Republican who is running for governor of Minnesota, so that is a big deal. Tom Emmer is also a supporter of a Christian rock group from his ministry known as You Can Run But You Cannot Hide. The frontman of that group, Bradlee Dean, has made some questionable comments about gays, including supporting the actions of Muslim countries that execute homosexuals.

To don the skeptic’s hat, though, Target is likely not supportive of Dean’s comments. Being a business, Target supports the Republican governor for his lenient business stance compared to that of most Democrats. Let’s be fair to Emmer here too; although he supports Dean’s group, to tie his comments to Emmer is ridiculously unfair. It is as unfair as saying that all Republicans are like Ann Coulter just because they invite her to events. That dimension of the boycott is unfair, as it is merely guilt by association.

Here’s a further complication. According to the HRC, Target received a 100 on its index of gay-friendly businesses. Target is more progressive than virtually any other retailer out there, going so far as to offer even transgender-inclusive healthcare, partner coverage, an employer-supported employee resource group, and provides diversity training. Aside from this donation, Target has been nothing but supportive of the gay community and been quite a booster.

By contrast, Men’s Wearhouse, Office Depot, Radio Shack, Walmart, AutoZone, Meijer, and even Minnesota-based Regis Corp. all score significantly lower, ranging from a middling 68 down to a questionable 20 on the index. The question here is why are we currently boycotting a business that has had a 100 with HRC (although this latest action may bring them to an 85) while Walmart enjoys top position on the Fortune 500 and a dismal score of 40? Target, by the way, is only 31 on the Fortune 500 list. Walmart’s market cap is $190 billion as of this writing, while Target sits at $38 billion.

In summary, this boycott is currently lead due to Target’s funding of a campaign for Minnesota’s next governor, who supports a group whose leader has made questionable comments. Is the boycott fair or effective?

Don’t expect to find answers here. This is just your guide to the boycott. The answers are up to you, readers. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monetizing the Hate: queer sites should mimic this mommy blogger

I’m a mommy and while I don’t read any mommy blogs, one of my mommy friends pointed me to this post by Heather Armstrong, the famous mommy blogger. She recently launched Monetizing the Hate, an online depository that aggregates all the hate-mail submitted at Dooce and she surrounds it by advertising. A lot of advertising. Ads galore. A good post at Jezebel elaborates on the Dooce-hate money-making venture.

This got me thinking that queer blogs should take a page from Armstrong’s playbook and profit from the hate too. After all, gay-bashing is still alive and thrives on the anonymous Internet. While Queercents doesn’t get much hate mail (unless I’m writing about the cost to circumcise my son or trying to get my equity line reinstated), there are plenty of sites that do. Destinations, such as The Bilerico Project, Pam’s House Blend, and John Aravosis’ AMERICAblog, that focus on politics or things that resemble the gay-agenda… you know, the kind of content that provokes the trolls.

They should start monetizing the hate and make a little moolah in exchange for all the effort that goes into moderating comments.

Photo credit: Dooce.

Why do people spend money to store their stuff?

“You can’t take it with you but you can certainly find a place to stash it away.” – Tom Vanderbilt

I’m captivated by the self-storage industry. More notably, my business sense is boggled trying to understand the demand for it and why people waste money to store their stuff. Sure, there are good reasons… most are temporary like moving and you’re caught in between homes. With one in ten households renting a storage unit, the reasons for most have nothing to do with being in transition but rather choosing to store items we no longer need or want.

I’ve written about this before when I linked to this excellent article in Slate. But this weekend, The New York Times Magazine visited the self-storage self with fresh eyes noting that the “non-economic use” has been purged by the recession:

But the collapsing economy created an opportunity, and in some cases an ultimatum, for Americans to reassess the raft of obligations and the loads of stuff we accumulated before things went wrong. We’ve been making difficult decisions, and for a lot of us, that has involved rolling up the door of a storage unit and carting property in or out. The storage industry’s expansion in the first flush years of this decade was both enabled by, and helped enable, the extreme consumption that defined America then. The people coming through the gates now are defining who we will be when this turmoil is over. Read the rest of this entry »

The cost to eradicate bed bugs

Jeanine knows someone who is having a costly ordeal with getting rid of bed bugs. At this point, I think he’s spent over a thousand dollars and he’s not even sure they’re completely gone from his apartment.

I’ve heard a few horror stories, but my perception had the problem confined to modest apartment buildings in New York City. Apparently that’s not the case. In April, the EPA called the first-ever bed bug summit because the country is experiencing its biggest outbreak since World War II.

When infestation is detected, people often will do whatever it takes to eradicate them. This, of course, is a breeding ground for fraud.

The New York Times recently reported that it’s not unusual for people to spend up to $5,000 to get rid of the critters. The article focused on what the afflicted can do to avoid getting bed bugs in the first place as well as getting taken to the cleaners by dishonest exterminators.

Spending money on prevention seems like the smart thing to do. Experts agree that mattress and box spring encasements are the best protection. The good ones, like these from Protect-A-Bed start upwards of $100: Read the rest of this entry »

Are You a Money Stasher?

While surfing (the kind that only exercises the fingers) I ran across this article: Money hiders risk a wealth of woes. Seems that due to the economy more people are “stashing” money and valuables at home out of fear of an economic collapse and the places they hide things are amazing.

The habit is more prevalent in those who are older and who may have lived through the Depression of the 30’s but it is being taken up a bit again by the younger set.

Even though you risk losing everything should there be a fire or a break in and the thieves find it… and of course while insurance might cover the jewelry, cash is never covered… and it doesn’t earn any interest like it would in the bank.

That is the reason you see all the ads for Gold and Silver Coins… fireproof and they can at least maintain a semblance of value even during inflationary times. Read the rest of this entry »

If Barack Obama was gay…

If Barack Obama was gay, he would have just signed an executive order giving himself, a federal employee, some additional benefits. Let’s see how that might change the lives of Barack and, well, Michael.

The new benefits include:

  • Barack can now sign up Michael for long-term care insurance.
  • Barack can now use his sick leave to care for Michael and Michael’s dependents. (I’m not sure how many sick days a President is allowed — I imagine it’s as many as he needs.)
  • If Barack is assigned to move overseas,* Michael can be included when determining family size for the housing allocation, and he will be able to use the overseas medical facilities. In the event of an emergency, Michael will eligible to be evacuated.

That’s it. Nothing more.

Michael will still not be able to:

  • Have health insurance provided through Barack’s employer,
  • Benefit from his pension should Barack pre-decease him,
  • Visit his partner or his partner’s children if hospitalized when traveling to any of the more than forty states that do not recognize his marriage to Barack,
  • Travel safely with Barack when visiting Saudi Arabia or Iran or any other county in which homosexuality is punishable by death, or
  • Have any of the other 1,138 US federal benefits identified by our General Accounting Office (GAO) which are contingent upon his marital status. Read the rest of this entry »

Chastity Bono Changing Gender from Female to Male

In news from late yesterday, Chastity Bono has announced that she is changing her gender from female to male and the process began just after her 40th birthday.  He will now go by the name of Chaz. Very little details are being provided on the announcement and Chaz is not currently available for media comment other than to share (through publicist):

“He is proud of his decision and grateful for the support and respect that has already been shown by his loved ones,” Bragman said. “It is Chaz’s hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his ‘coming out’ did nearly 20 years ago.”

Here’s a smattering of news clips on the announcement:

Here at Queercents we have lots of great information on transgender finances, transgender financial discrimination, and how to pay for sexual reassigment surgery from the very people living this experience every day.  It’ll be interesting to see how celebrity status does or does not impact Chaz’s experience.  Stay tuned as I’m sure our writers will be all over it.

Photo: Cover of Bono’s book.

Paula Gregorowicz, owner of The Paula G. Company, offers life coaching for lesbians to help you gain the clarity, confidence, and courage you need to have success on your own terms. Get the free eCourse “5 Steps to Turn Fear Into Freedom” at her website

Channeling Suze Orman: snazzy jackets and out-there advice

So if you haven’t ever seen Kristen Wiig spoof Suze Orman on Saturday Night Live, you’re missing out on one of life’s good laughs. Money magazine gave Wiig the award for best channeling of a money guru:

The impression of the year has got to be Saturday Night Live comic Kristen Wiig’s dead-on take on ubiquitous financial pro Suze Orman, complete with snazzy jackets, hyper-enunciation, and out-there advice. (One recent tip: Use beef bouillon cubes to make cheap self-tanner.) Wiig’s Orman has risen to the same rarefied level as Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin: It seems almost more real than the real thing.

See the clip below or an equally funny one found here.

Video credit: Youtube.

Same-sex matrimony adds bliss to Mass economy: $111 million and counting

Apparently, queers in Massachusetts missed Serena’s Queercents series about how to have a wedding on a budget. A recent survey [The Fiscal Impact of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts] looked at how much money was spent on nuptials by same-sex couples in the commonwealth over the last few years.

  • Nearly half of same-sex married couples in Massachusetts have spent $5,000 or more on wedding-related expenses, including invitations, flowers, clothing, entertainment, catering, and other related expenses.
  • Nearly one in ten same-sex couples spent over $20,000 on their wedding,
  • The average same-sex couple spent approximately $7,400 on their wedding.

The study [download PDF here at Marriage Equality Works] concludes that marriages have had a positive economic effect on the Massachusetts economy with current estimates at $111 million. That’s a lot of smack for the privilege of being able to kiss the bride. If you’re getting married in Massachusetts or other states (Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine) allowing same-sex couples to marry; then by all means enjoy the ceremony and celebration, but be sure and set a budget for the big day.

There is nothing worse than starting off wedded bliss with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Photo credit: stock.xchng.

Does Women’s Trusting Culture Help Identity Thieves?

What brought this train of thought on?

Well, I had read an article on Identity Theft earlier in the day where along with the fact that such theft is committed overwhelmingly (more than 50%) by someone the victim knows, (family member, friend, or coworker), among other things it stated a victim of identity theft was 26% more likely to be female.

Later on at work (I drive a Bus hauling around college students working in the Disney College Program so I generally see the same kids day to day) and I happened to notice something that on reflection is a frequent habit among the ladies but rare among the men.

What do they do? Well, in order to ride the transportation system you have to show your Housing ID.

No less than 6 times on Saturday night a lady had to ask her lady friend for her wallet so she could get her ID… seems it is a rather common practice for the lady with the big purse to end up as the carryall for small clutch purses or wallets. (God forbid, you put anything in a pocket… it’s treated worse than panty-lines)

Once in a while same can be said for the boyfriend out with girlfriend and she has his wallet in her purse. And once in a VERY great while one man will have the others wallet in his pocket. Read the rest of this entry »