Staycation: staying home is the new vacation

“Vacation: Two weeks on the sunny sands – and the rest of the year on the financial rocks.” – Sam Ewing

Last week, I asked Queercents readers what their tipping point was with gasoline prices… some said $3.50 per gallon while others indicated $5.00. Point being, people are rethinking how much time they spend in the car.
They’re also rethinking where they’re vacationing this summer. Many are staying home. Or taking a staycation instead of a vacation.

Andy Wibbels didn’t coin the phrase, but he pointed readers to this article that did: Staycations: Alternative to pricey, stressful travel:

AAA Vice President Mark Brown says the slowing economy and high fuel prices “have pushed some Americans to what we call the traveling tipping point. It’s clear that a small number of us may choose to stay home … and relax with friends and family rather than take a vacation.”

Gas prices appear to “have nowhere to go but up, and consumers and airlines in the United States are being dragged along for a very uncomfortable ride,” Brown said.

Economics aside, “staying at home for a vacation can be enormously restorative and transformative and fits much, much better into a lot of people’s schedules and logistics,” said Kristie McLean, a life coach in Seattle, Washington.
So what’s the secret to making a staycation a success? Making plans. Otherwise, the experts warn that it’s tough to avoid sloth mode. Plus, staying home means it’s easy to stay plugged into work:
Being close to home probably means you’ll have e-mail access and you’re physically close to work. But just because you can check your e-mail or scroll through your BlackBerry doesn’t mean you should.
So if you really need a get-a-way to unplug, then check out these Queercents suggestions:

Ten Money Questions for Torie Osborn

Torie Osborn has been a social activist for 40 years. Most recently, she was the highest-ranking gay or lesbian official in Los Angeles, while serving as special assistant to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

A couple of months ago, her thoughtful essay appeared as the Modern Love column in The New York Times. The theme: love, money and “paperwork” as she describes. I tracked her down to elaborate on the financial parts of both her personal and professional life.

Mosey on over to Queercents to read more or catch other interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.

Gas prices, the tipping point and tips to save money on gasoline.

“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers.” – George Carlin

About a year ago, the Washington Post conducted a poll finding:

The average price that drivers said would compel them to significantly cut back on their driving was $4.38 a gallon. In the western United States, where gasoline prices are typically higher than in the rest of the country, the average respondent said the price would have to hit $5.12 a gallon.
In California, we’re quickly closing in on the $5.12 a gallon and according to Walter, prices could even climb to $8.00 a gallon.
Oil companies and analysts have long debated where the tipping point is for gasoline — the price that would cause a significant drop in consumption or prompt motorists to opt for autos with better gasoline mileage.
People used to believe the tipping point was $3.00 a gallon. Well, obviously 3 bucks didn’t do the trick. What is or was the tipping point for you?

If it’s already happened for you then here are 29 Ways to Save Money on Gas. I’ve highlighted ten below but click over to the guy’s complete list for the expanded explanation:

1. Brake the Right Way: the less you have to break, the less you have to accelerate. A car consumes more gas as it accelerates.
2. Shifting Manual: a manual transmission is supposed to be more fuel efficient.

3. Reduce Weight: keep the trunk empty.

4. Turn Your Car Off: an idling car burns fuel… more fuel than it takes to restart it again.

5. Drive Slower: driving fast increases the drag and therefore increases fuel consumption
6. Close Your Windows: opening your windows increases the drag as well and uses more fuel.

7. Fill Up at Arco: it pays to drive by Chevron and Shell and find an Arco station.

8. Pick a Better Route: avoid heavy traffic and the route with a lot of traffic lights.

9. Ride the Slipstream: don’t tailgate, but on long trips drive your car into another cars slipstream and you will use less fuel.

10. Carpool and Combine Trips: do the math.

Bonus: Buy a More Fuel Efficient Car: eventually we all need a new car… make a better choice the next time around.

Any other ideas? Feel free to list them over at Queercents.

DIY vs. Hiring out: When is it worth the time and cost of doing it yourself?

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

Jeanine and I recently spent two weekends improving our garage. We’ve lived in our house for three years and despite cleaning it out several times, we still couldn’t get 2 cars in the 2-car garage. When we did make room for my 8-year-old Volvo, it would eventually get banished back to the curb within days.

About a month ago we had our first home study appointment for the pending adoption and the social worker pointed out the many violations in our garage that would require child-proofing. We decided before her second appointment, we should tackle this albatross and finally make the 2-car garage live up to its name. The social worker returned with her checklist last week and the house and garage passed with flying colors. The garage feels like a bonus in all this baby preparation.

There’s also something very family-like when I look at the house now with two cars in the garage. Parking in front always seemed a bit transient… like I’m not getting too comfortable here or perhaps I don’t belong or I’m just renting. But homeowners have rights to the garage. It’s a good feeling.

So what exactly did we do? We applied floor coating, installed shelves and made two trips to the Goodwill. I’m not sure why we thought the floor and shelves were going to be too challenging to make this a do-it-yourself venture. But the thought stalled us for years and we never got around to doing this project. We’ve had garage-envy many a times when we’d see a friend’s garage with that high-end epoxy floor coating. To have this professionally done, it will set you back about $1,500.

When it comes to DIY projects, I try to follow the same rules as Madame X at MyOpenWallet:

  • Don’t pay someone else to do what you can easily do yourself
  • Pay others to do anything that you might really f**k up!
  • If you can really make better use of the time, pay someone to do things that take up time
We always felt like the floor project might fall in the “really f**k up” category. But we started that Saturday with a trip to our neighborhood Ace hardware store. The guy in the paint department spent 20 minutes with us (you won’t find that at Home Depot) and carefully explained the directions of the Rustoleum Epoxy Shield Garage Floor Coating Kit (we needed 2 kits for the 2-car garage). This set us back about $130.

In order to prep the garage, we moved everything out and on to the back patio. Once it was empty, the shelving (installed by the previous owners) looked bulky and make-shift and the depth was one of the reasons why it was too tight to fit two cars. Jeanine and I looked at each other and made the dyke-with-a-sledge-hammer decision to demolish all four industrial-sized shelves. Now we were committed.

While phase one of the floor coating was drying we went to The Container Store and bought $525 worth of InterMetro Shelves that we had to assemble ourselves. We did and after phase two was completed we put everything back. We also bought heavy duty bike-racks for the walls. I did the drilling. I’m a wall-stud expert now and the bikes are hanging properly like civilized city people.

All the supplies, tools, etc. set us back less $800. We have a new garage (that we improved ourselves) for a fraction of the cost if we had hired out. And apparently people are hiring this project out. Curbly, a site for expert home-improvement advice writes:

Companies devoted strictly to the beautification of garages are springing up everywhere. They offer kitchen-quality cabinetry with European hinges, specialty organizers–including grid walls and bike hoists–and durable floor coating systems.

One such company, Premier Garage, bills itself as the leader in garage remodeling. Questioning one of their sales representatives at a recent home remodeling show, I was told that a standard 2-stall garage could be transformed in 48 hours for about $5,000. When all is said and done, it would probably look nicer than most people’s kitchens, and for 5 grand, it should.
We did ours for one fifth of the cost! J.D. at Get Rich Slowly has his rules too when it comes to doing home improvement projects. He suggests:

The cost and convenience of buying in the store or hiring out often outweigh the advantages of making things yourself. But don’t be duped. There are still many reasons to produce things with your own hands:
  • Superior quality of goods and workmanship.
  • Easy customization to suit your needs.
  • The satisfaction of a job well-done.
To make this worthwhile, do what you love. If you’re doing something you enjoy, something you consider fun, then the cost of your time is not a factor. If I’m planting, growing, and picking grapes, I’m having a good time. But I’d hate to replace my own roof, even if it would save me money.
J.D. also swears by the Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual. Of course, not every home improvement project should be a do-it-yourself venture. The DIY Life site and blog have a “Don’t-It-Yourself” category in their home improvement section. You might want to take note.

But epoxy floor coating — take it from two lesbians with an ugly garage — it’s a cinch to do-it-yourself and you’ll love saving a lot of money! So what projects do you DIY instead of hiring out? And what’s been the cost savings? Feel free to comment over at Queercents.

Ten Money Questions for Sabrina Matthews

Sabrina Matthews wears comfortable shoes and lives “amidst the doughnut shops and dude-speak” of Los Angeles. All this makes great fodder for her comedy routine while providing a healthy perspective on money, the housing market and getting paid to do what she loves.

Mosey on over to Queercents to read more or catch other interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Gay Wedding

“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.” – Barbara de Angelis

Is anyone tired of all the gay marriage news? I suspect the wedding party will last most of this week and then it will taper off just like all news does.

Life will get back to normal and gay couples who yearn for a more private affair can get down to business with planning their ceremony.
Gay weddings, just like straight ones cost money so consider the expense before you get too wrapped up in planning your nuptials. Here are five tips:

1. Say “I Don’t” to wedding debt

The straight people have known this for years: Taking out a wedding loan is huge financial mistake. But just like the credit cards companies preyed on the Gen X college students, banks have targeted those of us ready to walk down the aisle. Jeffrey Strain at MainStreet writes:

Both secured and unsecured wedding loans are available, and loan amounts can vary greatly, from as little as $1,000 all the way to the high five-figures. The interest rates you qualify for will depend greatly on your credit rating and whether you choose a secured or unsecured loan. In most cases, even couples with good credit will need to pay double-digit interest rates for a wedding loan, and many will carry interest comparable to what a couple would qualify for with a credit card.
Is a wedding really worth going into tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Probably not. So don’t go overboard and only do what you can afford. This leads to number 2…

2. Budget
Yes, you can plan an affordable wedding. But the key is in the “planning” part. Stick to a budget. This means you have to create a budget first. Here’s a printable Wedding Budget Worksheet along with some Tips for Controlling Wedding Costs. Keep in mind that half of the cost of a wedding will be for the reception. So scale accordingly.

3. Capitalize on the deals

Plan now while the deals are hot. You can get married this fall, but nothing is stopping you from negotiating now. Lyneka Little at MainStreet notes the deals are plentiful and points readers to Visit California, a new Web site that highlights special deals for couples planning their wedding and honeymoon.

4. Ask for help (or at least a discount)

Gays and lesbians are great at pooling the resources of friends… after all; we’ve been putting on holiday parties and fundraisers for years with their help. So think of the photographers, musicians, and good decorators in your life and ask them to be part of your special day. They’ll be honored. Even a few celebs are offering some advice gratis these days.

5. Time-bound the open bar

If it’s free, most people will just keep on drinking. The best way to curb this expense is by having an open bar during cocktail hour and then serving wine with dinner. Otherwise you’ll have people drinking $15 martinis all night… and that will set you back thousands. Believe me.

Here are some other gay and lesbian resources for your special day:

And finally, what to do if you get cold-feet.

In Search of Gay Money: Six Money Mistakes of the Newly Partnered

As gays and lesbians writing about money, we’ve grown weary of reading all the personal finance content that’s written from the perspective of straight marriages. So at Queercents, we’ve turned the tables on money and relationship advice by asking: What if all of our favorite money columnists were gay? Would their advice be more relevant to our lives?

We think the answer is yes! And as such, this is our weekly series called In Search of Gay Money where we reprint their advice by swapping out pronouns and a few other words to make it seem like everyone is queer!

Click over to Queercents to read Six Money Mistakes of the Newly Partnered by Erin Burt and Queercents.

California counting on money from gay marriage

“California is slightly red with respect to economic policy, and slightly blue with regard to social policy.” – Gavin Newsom

As the California Supreme Court’s decision becomes final today at 5 p.m. PDT for same-sex couples to legally marry, most of the weddings will begin tomorrow. County clerks in Los Angeles and San Francisco have ramped up significantly to accommodate the influx of applicants for marriage licenses and onsite ceremonies.

West Hollywood City Council member John Duran encouraged participants to bring bells to the weddings this week so freedom would literally ring out. This isn’t the only sound that will be heard. Cha-Ching!

That’s money being spent in California. According to the USAToday:

Many California businesses see dollar signs in gay nuptials…

A study prepared by two UCLA law and economics professors, to be released this month, estimates the state’s wedding and tourism-related businesses will see an increase of $683.6 million in direct spending over the next three years by same-sex couples.

Brad Sears, a law professor and one of the authors, said there are more than 102,000 same-sex couples in California. In addition, they estimate more than 67,000 same-sex couples will travel to California to marry.
Jeanine and I went to the “All About Marriage” town hall-style meeting last week at LA Gay and Lesbian Center and upon our departure, the windshields in the parking lot were filled with flyers and business cards from gay wedding planners, travel agents and florists.

According to The Advocate:
Heterosexual couples this year will spend $28,704 per wedding on average, according to the Wedding Report, a group that tracks the industry. But the real money is in tourism. Unlike Massachusetts, California allows couples from all other states to marry there. The more than 4,000 couples who married at San Francisco’s City Hall in 2004 came from 46 different states — and the Macy’s department store there reportedly sold out of wedding rings at the time.
Our state budget is going to get a boost as well. reported:
California’s sales tax is about 8.25% on average (it varies by county), meaning that gay marriage would potentially add over $200 million in revenue to government coffers over the next three years. Plus, hotel and rental car spending, which are taxed at higher rates, could yield even more cash for local and state treasuries.
Jeanine and I have talked about getting married many times. As I mentioned before, we were going to wait until after the November vote (please Vow to Vote No if you live in California), but now we’re re-thinking this strategy and will likely get married on our sixth year anniversary in October.

It still doesn’t mean we’ll be spending money on a big wedding. Until recently, we never thought it was going to be possible so in the last year, we spent money on our 40th birthdays as a way to mark time and commemorate something… it’s hardly a substitute for a wedding party, but it was an important milestone for each of us.

So if we tie the knot in October it will be a private affair. But it still means we’ll buy rings and probably jaunt off for a long weekend to someplace meaningful. Dollars spent. And that’s good business for California.

Ten Money Questions for Annie Libby

Annie Libby is a seasoned photographer and President of outLOUD Stock, a gay and lesbian stock photography company she founded in 2007 that challenges stereotypical imagery of queers in mainstream print media. Everyone knows a new business takes capital, so this was the perfect time to ask questions about cash flow, expenses and expanding her market.

She was also a freelancer for years and has useful ideas about self-promotion and the cost of doing business. Read on to learn how creative types thrive and make money!
Mosey on over to Queercents to read more or catch other interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.

In Search of Gay Money: Financial Fibs Erode Trust in Partnerships

As gays and lesbians writing about money, we’ve grown weary of reading all the personal finance content that’s written from the perspective of straight marriages. So at Queercents, we’ve turned the tables on money and relationship advice by asking: What if all of our favorite money columnists were gay? Would their advice be more relevant to our lives?

We think the answer is yes! And as such, this is our weekly series called In Search of Gay Money where we reprint their advice by swapping out pronouns and a few other words to make it seem like everyone is queer! This post fits well with yesterday’s review of the new book, Financial Infidelity.

Click over to Queercents to read Financial Fibs Erode Trust in Partnerships by Liz Pulliam Weston and Queercents.

Book Review: Financial Infidelity

“They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.” – Oscar Wilde

Love and money go hand in hand which is why financial infidelity is often just as damaging to a relationship as a physical affair. Just ask Kathy Griffin.

Better yet, ask Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil. She’s an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist (not quite as well-known as Dr. Phil, but she’s made the rounds on Oprah and the morning shows) and author of Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker. For thirty years, she’s been dishing out relationship advice as a New York City therapist.

As a lesbian, I typically shy away from the mainstream relationship books. After all, was there any reason for me to read, He’s Just Not That Into You when it was the hot dating book several years ago? But Financial Infidelity applies to all relationship varieties: straight, gay… perhaps even a trouple operating as a fiscal unit.

In Financial Infidelity, Dr. Bonnie, offers effective solutions to this pervasive relationship threat by enabling readers to:

  • Assess the true cost of financial infidelity
  • Understand how buying, rewarding, or controlling behavior with money can open the door to lies, betrayals, and affairs
  • Understand how childhood relationships to money and love can create damaging emotional links
  • Separate the value of their relationship from the value of their bank account
  • Disconnect from harmful emotional and financial behaviors in order to reconnect with their partner
She ends each of the seven steps (chapters) with what she calls Smart Heart dialogue… these are suggested replies to a variety of “money talk” case studies and while most represent straight couples, most of the examples apply to us. Note: At one point, Dr. Bonnie does address the special needs of gays and lesbians in her sections on prenups and cohabitation agreements – a must for those of us that still can’t get married and are shacking up!

She also works with gays and lesbians in her practice in NYC and so I asked her three questions that I thought might enlighten our readers:

1. Does financial infidelity play out any different in gay partnerships vs. straight marriages?
Gays do not “co-mingle” their money due to trust issues and their fear of intimacy which may come out by “switching partners” to protect themselves. They think they would be more vulnerable if they did “co-mingle” funds.

2. Do you have any advice for lesbians?

Financial infidelity comes in to play due to mistrust and intimacy issues and to an emptiness from childhood, or missing out on getting what you want or need emotionally in childhood or from the relationships that they are in now. It mirrors sibling rivalry issues that they engage in with “one-up” or to outdo your partner and to manipulate or get back at partners, or “omit” (buying something but not mentioning it to your partner), due to fear, shame, blame and abandonment about money!

3. How do your theories apply when many gay men openly choose not to be monogamous?

Gay men may have stress levels and there is a “stress gene” that is being researched now that comes from early childhood and was featured in the May 10 issue of “The Economist” that could play a part, due to their conflicting feelings about their sexual identity earlier in childhood. This stress level or gene makes them attracted to “thrill seeking” behavior and to “self-medicate” to calm down and to feel better and that has to do with financial infidelity.

Dr. Bonnie talks extensively about how this brain-body connection can promote relationship-destroying habits:

Just as an individual may turn to an illicit love affair to provide the biochemical feelings of connection and experience the thrill of a new romance, over and over again, so, too, they may turn to risky financial behavior for stimulation. Even if they stop the love affair, they may not have the self-control to stop the risky financial behavior.

The reason is that the behaviors that stimulate these feelings can easily become addictive. For instance, for any addict, the choice to self-medicate in any number of ways—with alchohol, medications, sex, or money—can begin with a desire to relieve stress or mute depression. The addiction then progresses to a preoccupation with where their next “fix” will come from, and often involves a strong desire to create rituals around obtaining the “high.” This preoccupation becomes a compulsion—to use drugs or alcohol, or to have sex, or to shop—followed by depression and despair as the effects wear off, leading to the start of the cycle all over again.
Sounds like the aftermath of a wild circuit party. That said, our relationships don’t need to be a bad trip or contain crazy dysfunctional cycles. Dr. Bonnie provides hope and help for the inevitable emotional fallout:
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love takes courage and effort.
You can buy the book online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Or you can win the copy I’m giving away by revealing one of your naughty financial infidelities in the comments section over at Queercents. I’ll pick a winner within a couple of days.

Ten Money Questions for Donna Rose

Donna Rose writes, speaks, and is an advocate for transgender and transsexual issues. Her personal memoir is called Wrapped in Blue and as one review describes, “takes on the beautiful mythic proportion of the hero’s journey.” From my perspective, Donna is probably the most recognizable face of the trans movement because of her efforts around workplace issues.

Of course, when we talk work, the topic of money naturally comes up. Transgender people face challenges in coming out and living openly. This often applies to the workplace. Donna explains how this can impact earning potential and employability.

Mosey on over to Queercents to read more or catch other interviews in the Ten Money Questions archive.

Hillary Clinton relied on old money. New money won this primary season.

God bless the America we are trying to create. – Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary Clinton hasn’t officially bowed out of the presidential race, but yesterday was still a sad evening in our household. The Hillary sign came down in our front yard.

I figured the neighbors might smirk if we immediately erected an Obama sign, but I wasn’t quite prepared to make the street smile with a new placard. We’ll eventually get his name out there.

In the meantime, I’m reflecting on what went wrong and early on in the race, a lot of it had to do with money. A month ago, TIME magazine indicated she had made five crucial mistakes. One happened to be that she relied on old money:

For a decade or more, the Clintons set the standard for political fund raising in the Democratic Party, and nearly all Bill’s old donors had re-upped for Hillary’s bid… But something had happened to fund raising that Team Clinton didn’t fully grasp: the Internet.

Though Clinton’s totals from working the shrimp-cocktail circuit remained impressive by every historic measure, her donors were typically big-check writers. And once they had ponied up the $2,300 allowed by law, they were forbidden to give more. The once bottomless Clinton well was drying up.

Obama relied instead on a different model: the 800,000-plus people who had signed up on his website and could continue sending money his way $5, $10 and $50 at a time. (The campaign has raised more than $100 million online, better than half its total.) Meanwhile, the Clintons were forced to tap the $100 million — plus the fortune they had acquired since he left the White House — first for $5 million in January to make it to Super Tuesday and then $6.4 million to get her through Indiana and North Carolina.
Andrew Tobias echoed the same sentiment. As treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, he’s the DNC’s highest-ranking openly gay official, I asked him if he saw money doing anything good when it came to the political process. His answer:
Sure. Politics is tacky and all the awful things it is — but you can’t have democracy without politics, and politics requires money. That said, it’s wonderful how the balance of power is shifting away from the $500,000 and $5 million contributions (now illegal) — and even the $28,500 contributions (the current annual max to a federal political party like the DNC) — to the potential for millions of $10 and $25 and $100 and $250 contributions over the Internet.
Until Hillary, I had never given money to a political candidate. So a couple of months ago Jeanine and I gave individually over the Internet after being prompted by a friend forwarding the pleas from After we gave, the real benefit was that we received daily emails from (wink, wink) Hillary. I actually looked forward to this communication because it was a message direct from her campaign that hadn’t been filtered and recounted by the pundits. For my 100 bucks I felt like I was in the know. It made me feel a part of something.

Obviously, Barack Obama figured this out sooner than the Hillary camp. I have to give his people credit. “Change we can believe in.” He did it with a little more than pocket change. $5, $10 and 20 bucks a pop.

So what about you? Did you give? If so, how much? And what prompted you to click the “Contribute” button? Feel free to comment over at Queercents.

In Search of Gay Money: Millionaires in the Making

As gays and lesbians writing about money, we’ve grown weary of reading all the personal finance content that’s written from the perspective of straight marriages. So at Queercents, we’ve turned the tables on money and relationship advice by asking: What if all of our favorite money columnists were gay? Would their advice be more relevant to our lives?

We think the answer is yes! And as such, this is our weekly series called In Search of Gay Money where we reprint their advice by swapping out pronouns and a few other words to make it seem like everyone is queer!

Click over to Queercents to read Millionaires in the Making: Jerry Lynn and Frank Moser by David Ellis and Queercents.

Blogging for LGBT Families Day: We are Family!

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.” – George Santayana

Today is the third annual Blogging for LGBT Families Day, where the LGBT community and allies come together in support of our families. Queercents offers a couple of posts on the topic of money & family. Here is mine:

Jeanine and I always consider ourselves to be a family. The dictionary defines family as a group of individuals living under one roof. Another word for this is household: a social unit composed of those living together in the same dwelling. We are a family.

Well, we are a family, unless we’re traveling and then this definition always trips us up. For example, on Saturday night we returned from a week trekking around Peru and as we were filling out our customs declaration form on the plane we looked at each other and asked, what are you going to put in the box marked “Number of family members traveling with you.”

As usual, we agreed on “zero” and then I start on my rampage that married people don’t even blink when this question comes up. They consider their husband or wife to be their family… no questions asked. But in the past, when we’ve tried to approach the passport control officer together – the question always comes up:

“Are you sisters?”

“No sir.”

“Are you related?”

“Well, we’re domestic partners.”

“You need to come through the line individually.”

Of course, this is after I’ve watched twenty married couples… each approaching the counter together… no questions asked. Why does this continue to infuriate me?

And what will we do when we eventually have a child? Can we all file through together? Or will Jeanine get in one line with the baby and I’ll go to another lugging the diaper bag and stroller.

It’s not just “official” government lines where we get snagged. On this particular trip, as we were trying to board our plane in Miami for Lima, Jeanine got brushed aside by the gate agent.

We were flying American Airlines, an airline I’ve flown millions of miles on and of course, I love that I have status as one of their AAdvantage Executive Platinum members. But status only carries you so far. And obviously for me, it means that Jeanine can’t tag along like other family members.

Case in point: One of the perks of membership is priority boarding. This means I can board before the masses in order to settle in and be assured room for my carryon baggage. Also, this means that Jeanine can board with me as my traveling companion / family member even though her boarding card indicates she’s been banished to Group 7.

On this particular trip, the gate agent turned Jeanine away. I was furious. It was a full flight and if she waited until her group was called there wouldn’t be any room left overhead for her rollerboard.
My pleading didn’t help. I told him that she was my domestic partner and she always had been permitted to board with me. He said no and he wasn’t in any mood to entertain my debate.

So I left her behind and as soon as I got on the plane, I asked to see the first flight attendant. In my rage, I explained that if I had been a man and Jeanine was my wife; the scene would have played out differently with the ticket agent. Jeanine would have been on the plane by now with her carryon stowed. I guess my rant about their discriminatory practice carried some weight, because the attendant went out to the boarding area, called for Jeanine and escorted her onto the plane.
And then we settled in to our overnight flight feeling like a family.

Yes, we are family even if sometimes we have to make a scene to prove it. In this case, I think my dollars expended as a long-term customer did most of the convincing. Hey, whatever does the trick!
Still it makes me angry that I have to fight for the right of family. What about you? Please feel free to comment over at Queercents.