Next year I'll be a student again which means that not only will
my alcohol budget and my threshold for unwashed scuzziness need to
rise considerably but I'll also need to undertake the perilous task
of finding somewhere to live. For someone as skilful at
over-thinking things as I, the process of finding roommates is a
veritable Camp David of internal negotiation.
When it comes to the question of when, or whether at all, to
reveal my sexuality to prospective housemates my policy is to panic
first and then try to ignore the whole thing. It's not that I'm
uncomfortable with my sexuality or ashamed about being gay, it's
the opposite: being a lesbian is a fairly major part of my identity
and that's what makes it so hard to sweep under the rug (no pun
On the one hand, as people will argue, your sexual preferences are
nobody else's business - most people advertising a spare room in a
flatshare probably couldn't care less what you'll be getting up to
in there, providing it's legal. But on the other hand, my
'lifestyle' (as in, being out as a lesbian) is very much a target
for voyeurism and for intolerance in the public domain.
And if the public is intent on defining us by what we get up to in
our bedrooms then it's hard to get away from the fact that, in the
words of our feminist forebears, the personal is political.
Depending on your look it might be easy for people to make the
assumption that you are a lesbian: if you turn up with a shaved
head, combat boots, and a 'nobody knows I'm a lesbian' t-shirt you
can circumvent the awkwardness of having to come out to your future
Despite how obvious I think my lesbianism is on the surface, I've
been told I'm hard to peg. I can drop as many Sapphic references
into a conversation as humanly possible and some people will still
persist in their assumption that I'm just a straight girl who would
never be caught dead in a dress.
A friend who was recently looking for a room in London has the
misfortune of being able to talk openly about her 'girlfriend',
even 'ex-girlfriend', with most people assuming, from her American
accent, that she must be referring in some cute sorority-sister way
to one of her bosom buddies. Her policy after having viewed a room
was simply to ask at the end whether everyone in the house was fine
with gay people. The response was, 'yes, obviously.'
There are websites for gay flatshares but the majority of rooms
offered seem to be from older gay men asking for guys to provide a
photo if interested. It's not quite what I have in mind. More
trustworthy sources like Outlet err on the expensive side and,
again, the word 'gay' is taken to read 'gay man'.
It's hard to find anywhere that advertises as specifically
'lesbian-friendly' - perhaps there's just no demand from single
lesbians looking for a room because, if the old cliché is right, we
always move in with someone else after the second date.
I'm probably over-thinking this and in reality no one will bat an
eyelid when I dramatically come out after a few glasses of wine -
it's just another of those moments, like starting a new job, in
which picking the right moment to come out can require a feat of