“What does gay money look like? Not surprisingly, it looks a lot like money. Gay money happens to be the same as non-gay money. So why can financial institutions in America still be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity?”
So asks the welcome video that explains Superbia, the first explicitly gay credit union. I’ve been waffling on dumping my money out of a large corporate bank and into a credit union for a long time; credit unions exist to serve their members and are, in fact, owned by said members, so profits from it go right back to those with accounts at the institution. Credit unions are by and large not funding things like the Dakota Access Pipeline. They keep money local and decentralized. In short, credit unions are bomb. But my problem is that I haven’t found one I’m in love with yet.
My face went totally heart-eyes-emoji when I got the press release about Superbia. Explicitly for the queers and our allies, this sucker will not only function like a normal credit union would, but it will also pour 30% of its profits back into community organizations. And they’ll do this by making sure you aren’t refused service at your goddamn financial institution, a thing that still happens despite the fact that it is 2018. The promotional material cites a bunch of studies proving that queers undergo financial discrimination, but I know I don’t have to explain that here. Because we’ve all felt it. We’re all keenly aware of the subtle-yet-pervasive sense of economic dread, and some of us may have experienced outright hostility when applying for loans, for instance, or trying to open a business.
Founder Myles Meyers (epic name!) is keenly aware that our financial needs as a community are unique. From the press release:
In the same way a bakery can refuse a cake, one bank’s discrimination could lead to higher interest rates on homes, rejection of student loans, judgement on credit for health needs, outdated products and services for LGBTQ individuals and families, and lack of acceptance and understanding among traditional institutions. Twenty-nine states currently have no anti-discrimination laws in place, meaning sexual orientation or gender identity may be considered in accessing credit. “Our families, lives and financial journeys are not necessarily the same as those of other communities,” shares Meyers. “The products we need and how we are communicated to should reflect our community, using our values, as we determine.”
The credit union’s tech will be powered by CU*Answers and the credit and debit cards will be Mastercards. They’ve got it all planned out and they’re ready and raring to go. Their next step is raising funds to set up the credit union, which they’re doing on Indiegogo. Now I normally do not, under any circumstances, write about a fundraiser. But truly, honestly, my need for you all to know this exists comes from one place deep in my very soul: the place that wants to give my money to my fellow queers. I make a lot of decisions with my money to keep it in the fam. I love to pay queers. Love love love it. And essentially that is what being a member of the gay credit union would be: paying queers. Members vote on what organizations get our money as members; and if members need a service that isn’t being provided, they ask for it and are actually taken seriously. Superbia is already partnered with Stonewall Community Foundation to administer grants to LGBTQ organizations. If all goes well, this will be up and running by Fall 2018.
Decentralizing money and orienting it toward community is one decision that individuals can actually make that disrupts some of the unfettered power that large corporations have in this crazy, crazy world of our own making. In summary, here are the bare bones bullet points of what this financial institution will be all about. From their Indiegogo page:
- Remove the risk of discrimination that members of the LGBTQ community can still encounter at traditional institutions
- Provide unfettered access to tailored financial products and services
- Harness the power of our diverse and activated community to provide equal economic opportunity and support to our community.
Superbia will serve its members in three important ways
- Provide fair, non-discriminatory and unique products, services and treatment that honors the unique needs of the LGBTQ community.
- Put profits back into Superbia to offer better saving and lending rates, and other improved services to our members
- Awarding up to 30% of remaining annual profit to directly fund LGBTQ organizations, causes and community needs.
If this sounds good to you, consider heading over to Indiegogo (where, if you’ll recall, we raised funds for our massive redesign back in 2012, so yay Indiegogo!) and consider making a contribution to the founding of Superbia. And since it’ll be Mastercards, I’ll close with the following:
Minimum contribution? $50
Special Founder’s Edition Mastercard? $250
Having a bank that helps sustain the community and gets your pronouns right? Priceless.
This is a great idea ! Being in another country I don’t think I can join, but I’m definitely cheering this on.
Wow, great idea! I hope it gets going because I’d love to join. Thanks for giving us all the heads-up!
SHUT UP AND LITERALLY TAKE MY MONEY
Genius way to close the article
There is already a project like this, so the statement that this is the first, is false. Equality Washington did a campaign in for 2015 an LGBTQ+ credit union.
Their campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-campaign-for-equality-credit-union#/
Article about them on Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/debtfreeguys/2017/10/22/heres-why-the-queer-community-needs-its-own-credit-union/#1f9fbaa87656
Of course my first question is, how do we make sure queer people of color organizations get supported by the donations? Will credit union members vote? or what?
and also YAY CREDIT UNIONNNNNSSSS!!!! Thanks for sharing this :D
I was thinking about this as well, and as far as I can tell from the website, the idea is that yes, the members vote on who gets the donations. Whether that is helpful I think depends on who ends up joining? But at least there would be some sort of input process.
Considering how some of the LGBT community feels about bi/trans/people of color… voting seems like it would alienate these communities. Does anyone else see this?
YES about this credit union.
Also, HI ALI I meant to comment on your other (farewell AS?) article recently but oops.
Wanted to say, I still remember your writing a while ago (years?) about how important it was to have queer ppl and other communities involved in developing tech right at its inception.
This was a new idea for me but stayed with me and wow, so true (looking at you Elon). Just wanted to thank you for your contributions to AS and rock on with your new prof life. Hope to see your writing here now and then.
This sounds fantastic! I couldn’t find information on where it will be located or what geographic reach it will have, though. Is that information available?
While I’m happy to see efforts being made to serve the financial needs of the queer community, I think some very serious (and honestly more important) questions remain. For example, will this credit union be NCUA (The National Credit Union Association) insured? What good is catering to the LGBT community if the credit union goes under, and your life savings go with it? What about branch and ATM availability? ATM fees? (A CU is not a non-profit entity and still needs to make money at the end of the day). What about online banking features and security?
Folks, please don’t get sucked into the old “banks are evil, credit unions are angels” narrative that is pervasive and problematic. CEO’s and executives of credit unions are getting indicted every day over misconduct and fraudulent activity, just like the national banks. You just don’t hear about it in the media as often because it’s not as scintillating as news on Wells Fargo or any other major retail bank.
Watch your mind and your wallet.
Your queerest CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™