As October was National LGBTQ History Month, we’re going to take a look at how LGBTQ people can navigate finding housing and roommates as well as look at how heterosexual individuals can be great allies.
I’ve had people say to me: “Why do you need to focus so much on being LGBTQ? Aren’t you just another person? Housing shouldn’t be an issue.” Unfortunately, though, the reality is that many LGBTQ individuals still face discrimination, mistreatment, and feeling unsafe in their homes. Reading an article on Advocate by Trudy Ring validated this reality:
“In 18 states prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBT people filed complaints at the same rate as people of color and women, according to a study released in February by the Williams Institute, an LGBT-oriented research group at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law.”
So, yes, it’s uniquely important that we look at how LGBTQ individuals and couples can navigate finding housing and how allies can be supportive. Let’s start with tips for LGBTQ identified people:
Tips for LGBTQ People looking for Housing
- Be transparent. This doesn’t have to mean explicitly disclosing your orientation or gender identity, but do that if you feel comfortable. Directly ask if it’s a friendly place for LGBTQ people or if people from varying backgrounds and lifestyles are welcomed. Transparency is a good way to weed out prejudiced potential landlords or roommates.
- Look out for *queer-friendly* listings. If you live in a major city like New York or Boston, there are Facebook groups titled “Queer-Exchanges.” These are much more likely to be safe places that are either LGBTQ individuals themselves, or clearly allies.
- Walk away from housing that gives you a bad feeling. Of course, this tip is within reason, not all of us have the luxury of being picky with our housing, but gut feelings aren’t to be ignored lightly. If a potential realtor, landlord, roommate, etc. isn’t sitting well, then chances are they’re not the right choice. Walk away and fingers crossed for the next opportunity!
How to Show You’re LGBTQ Friendly
I think the biggest piece of advice I can offer to those seeking to be a supportive ally is to explicitly express being “queer-friendly” or an LGBTQ ally. Even if you seem like an incredibly friendly person, there’s a chance you’re not accepting of LGBTQ folks. It helps to ease minds and make everything clear when you’re explicit! Because you’ve gone out of your way to understand what this means and to express it in an ad, in person, or through a realtor, there’s a better chance that an LGBTQ person can feel good in their housing choice.
I’ve covered a few basics to actual housing hunting, but what about when you finally move in? How can you continue to keep that feeling of being comfortable? I think this falls more in the lap of the allies. An LGBTQ person just wants to live without feeling judged, oppressed, or targeted (like everyone else!). Allies can make sure their living space is safe by refraining from doing any of those things and making sure their guests are respectful. For example, if you have a friend who likes to make gay jokes or makes comments about your trans roommate, speak up. Don’t let that fly. There are other ways to be a good ally, like reading up on LGBTQ lingo and making sure to use proper pronouns.
Comfortable housing is important to everyone, but especially those who face discrimination and misunderstanding. Use some of these tips when hunting for a place to live whether you’re LGBTQ or not. What have some of your experiences been? Leave them in the comments below!