London, January 23:

The true power of the pink pound was revealed today with the publication of a survey of gay men and women’s earnings suggesting they outstrip the straight salary by up to 10,000 pounds a year.

Women have officially joined the pink pound economy and some of Britain’s biggest companies are ploughing money into the gay market, researchers said. There are now an estimated 70 billion pink pounds earned and spent in the UK every year.

Gay men in full-time jobs earn on average 34,200 pounds a year, compared with the national average for men of 24,800 pounds. Lesbians earn 6,000 pounds more than the national average for women, take two more holidays a year and spend 400 pounds a month on credit cards, according to the survey of 1,118 readers of Diva and Gay Times by the marketing consultancy Out Now.

Last year’s government figures, which put the number of gay people in the UK at more than three million — or six per cent of the population — has enabled companies to make clearer estimates of the potential of the pink pound and led to huge interest among some of Britain’s biggest brands.

Based on those numbers, gay men and women in the UK spent more than 800 million pounds on CDs, even more — 843 million pounds — on DVDs and as much again on books and magazines.

The pink holiday market was worth 3 billion in 2005, and spending on clothing was 1.9 billion.

Gay men spent more on holidays, DVDs and clothing last year than lesbians, but lesbians outspent gay men on mobile telephone bills and buying pet food.

Lesbians were also far more likely than gay men to take a honeymoon after registering their civil partnerships.

Ian Johnson, managing director of Out Now, said, “Now that the market is able to be accurately measured, more companies can develop marketing plans to better position their brands to attract gay and lesbian customers. Benchmark UK brands such as Barclays Bank, British Telecom, HMV and British Airways have all shown marketing interest in targeting the spending power of the gay and lesbian community. These companies are assessing their products, their communications and their distribution strategies to improve their gay market positioning.”

Jane Czyzselska, Diva’s editor, said, “It’s always been assumed that because of gender inequalities lesbians aren’t high earners. Our survey disproves that idea. In so many areas lesbians have not been valued because of their sexuality. There’s been a lesbian glass ceiling and this shows that women are breaking through.”

A separate survey of lesbians’ fashion habits, published in Diva magazine this month, debunked other stereotypes about gay women. Thirty-three per cent described their style as feminine, 32 per cent as smart and 23 per cent as ‘boyish’. The survey asked more intimate questions about women’s choice in underwear: nearly half wear comfy ‘hipster shorts’, with one per cent ‘going commando’.

Czyzselska said, “The stereotypical idea of lesbians — particularly from people with prejudices — is that we are not feminine and that’s almost considered a crime. It’s therefore interesting to note how many women describe themselves as feminine.”

Sally Munt, professor of cultural studies at Sussex University and author of Butch/Femme: Inside Lesbian Gender, said, “The pink pound has historically been driven by men simply because of the gender gap in pay. But you’ve always had extremely rich aristocratic lesbians, it’s just they’ve been less visible. This survey shows a growing acceptance.”