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Washington Post Pushing 'Upwardly Mobile' Myth

The Washington Post ran a piece on Sunday, titled "Two Grooms, One Wedding Planner" about the burgeoning wedding industry in Argentina, focused on gay and lesbian couples. That country became the first in Latin America to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples earlier this year. And, as the article points out, Buenos Aires had already become somewhat of a hotspot for the LGBT community even before the marriage law.

Is it news that Sergio Donoso, who is getting married, likes to try on feather boas and whimsical hats, and plans on wearing feathers at his wedding? Not really, but it's a cute enough picture.

However, it WOULD BE news that - as author Juan Forero writes - "As in the United States, gays in Argentina are relatively well-educated and upwardly mobile." That is ... if it were true in either case.

That sentence should have read "As in the United States, there exists a stereotype of the LGBT community in Argentina, that they are all relatively well-educated and upwardly mobile."

A study last year by the Williams Institute found that “Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are as likely to be poor as are heterosexuals, while gay and lesbian couple households, after adjusting for the factors that help explain poverty, are more likely to be poor than married heterosexual couple households."

This myth, that we are all Ellen DeGeneres or Will Truman, may seem innocuous enough, until you realize the harm it causes to members of our community. After all, why would the public support non-discrimination laws that protect a group of people who they believe to be better off than they are? Our opponents already question our motivations. This myth does nothing but drive animosity against the our communities.

The reality is that LGBT people in the US, in Argentina, and around the world are often subject to extreme discrimination in the workplace, can have trouble making or maintaining a living wage, and often don't even have the support of their families to fall back on. That may not be the case for Sergio Donoso, whom the Post profiles, but it causes great harm to his community and ours, when writers paint with such a broad brush.

It's a wonderful story that Donoso and his soon-to-be husband can celebrate their love with their families and friends, and that the government of Argentina will recognize and respect their marriage. We wish them all the best for their wedding, and hope it's just the first in a lifetime of wonderful days together. But there's another story that needs to be told - one that this article pretends does not exist.

We already have a call into the Post to discuss the piece. We'd like to see Juan Forero do a follow up on the real lives of other LGBT people in Argentina - the ones who can't drop $25,000 on a wedding.