Giving back to his community has been a great passion for Don Quaintance, who’s dedicated his life to providing support and awareness building for the LGBTQ+ community in his rural Minnesota community. He was a founder of the Men’s Circle, a support and discussion group for queer men, helped launch the East Central Minnesota chapter of PFLAG, and was an inaugural member of the East Central Minnesota Pride planning committee. He’s also frequently put his money where is heart is. “I gave financially quite a sum of money when we first started the East Central Minnesota Men’s Circle,” he recalls. “I had a good job and was able to give a lot of money for that cause. Without that, we probably would not have been able to start the Circle or have the pride event.”
According to Merrill’s Diverse Viewpoints: Exploring Wealth in the LGBTQ+ Community study of affluent LGBTQ+ individuals, Quaintance’s priorities aren’t uncommon, as the study shows that 19 percent of LGBTQ+ people count “giving back to my community” among their financial priorities, compared to 12 percent for the general population. As Quaintance's dedication to building up his local LGBTQ+ community and impacting the lives of people outside his own circle exemplifies, members of the LGBTQ+ community generally feel a responsibility to people beyond just those that they know.
Quaintance’s generosity and concern for his community doubtlessly changed lives, particularly in a time and place where queerness was far less visible. Quaintance himself remembers when he had never even heard of gay people. “When I was growing up, there was no one that you could really look up to, and definitely not in a rural area that you could speak to. And I didn’t even know of any other gay person in the rural area. It wasn’t until 1959 after graduating from high school and moving to Minneapolis that I had actually heard the word ‘gay’ and then met some gay people,” he says.
But in order to give back, you have to protect and grow your own wealth, something Quaintance says you should start as soon as possible. “Set [aside] or invest as much money as possible, because that money will grow and be able to support you when you do retire,” he advises others, based on his own experience.
To learn more about Merrill’s study “Diverse Viewpoints: Exploring Wealth in the LGBTQ+ Community” visit ML.com/Diversity.