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Queer Abby: How Can We Make These Bros Make Space For Us?

Queer Abby,

My girlfriend and I are about to move into a sharehouse with four guys. We will be the only females in the house with the exception of occasional female friends staying over. 

The guy who we contacted about the room —  let’s call him Marko — is currently overseas for a month and we don’t know any of the other guys’ names.

We went to the house today to test out the keys and there were a lot of empty beer bottles and a half-full ashtray inside the house. We are a little worried as Marko assured us it’s not a party house and that smoking isn’t permitted inside the house. We also feel a bit overwhelmed as the guys are all friends and have previously lived together. 

How can we make sure that we are respected and heard and that they make a place for us? 

Thanks for your help,

Freaked Out Femme Females 

My dear dear Freaked Out Femme Females, 

The red flags at this house are flying HIGHHHH!!!!!

If this is how these men prepared to meet their roommates for the first time — with empty beer bottles and ashtrays — that is a bad sign. What’s it going to look like when they’re not preparing for new renters?

My recommendation, and you are not going to like it, is to find another place to live. 

Acceptance can bring you a lot of things. 

You may want to believe the thing that the absentee Marko was telling you, but your eyes, ears, and nose are giving you real evidence that this is a dude house with a pre-existing dude culture that seems like a bit of a mess. 

No, it seems like a big mess! 

Accept that an overflowing ashtray INSIDE THE HOUSE LIKE IT’S GODDAMN 1973 is something that seems reasonable to these gentlemen. 

It’s their preference! If their preference was for a clean space, free of beer debris, that’s what you would have seen. 

In order to live there and have any standards of cleanliness, you would have to disrupt their preferences, and either clean for them or try to control the situation more than I’m comfortable advising you to do. 

It can be crazy-making to try and get other people to live by your standards when they’re not feeling it. I want your minds to be at peace when you walk in the door to your home. That’s what every femme* deserves! 

I believe this, even if you are short on cash and the house is an incredible bargain.

Listen — I love saving money, but you know what I love even more than saving money? I love cleaning a space, leaving, and returning to find the same space STILL CLEAN. 

I love not having to do someone else’s dishes in order to have a friend over for dinner. And I adore not feeling like Wendy to a team of Lost Boys. 

Have I lived with gentlemen before? Yes. Many of them? Yes yes. Have I had a drunk bike messenger set the stove on fire making tater tots? Absolutely? Had them leave a giant mess after I cleaned the kitchen and went to bed the night before my mom came to visit? Yep yep. 

Was it financially terrifying to leave a punk house for something with less roommate density? It was. 

And now, in my golden years, I do the cost-benefit analysis of whether I’d rather stress about money or roommates. Money wins! I would rather pick up a paper route, chase around children,  or tap-dance on a street corner with my dog in a bowtie. 

I’d rather do anything than receive a passive aggressive note or walk in on a near stranger’s froth-pee.

Short of kicking the men out and starting over, I think your time is better spent thinking of ways to find and afford some place free of the smell of cigarettes** and bro-farts than it is trying to wrangle a bunch of dudes into Martha Stewart-dom. 

My femme friends, I know that moving is a giant pain in the ass, and it’s likely you found this space after weeks or months of searching, but I encourage you to summon just a little more strength and get back out there. A couple more weeks of particularity now will serve you and make you so much happier in the long term.  

I’m the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and I ask you, my FFFs, to do your own cost/benefit analysis of the situation. 

May all your rooms be tidy and your houses smell fresh!

xoxo, 

n.g.

P.S. Your other option is to huddle in your room next to the air purifier & a hot plate, feeding errant raccoons a la Grey Gardens (which doesn’t sound so terrible to me. I happen to like wash-bears & small spaces.) 

* Every queer person deserves the sanctity of their home space. Not just femmes.

Depending on your class status, family of origin, internalized homophobia etc, you may not think you deserve nice things. I’m here to tell you and anyone who believes they deserve Less Than in some deep dark chamber of their heart, that you do. You deserve to have a peaceful, special space, especially if you are a marginalized person who gets grief in the outside world. Get as much serenity at home as you can, so you can be robust and fortified when you step out that door. You are worth it. 

**Who still smokes real-life cigarettes anymore, let alone in the space where they eat??? My mind is blown. Please give them a brochure for douche flutes and call it a day. 

Got a question for Queer Abby? Write to [email protected]. All questioners will remain anonymous!


Nicole J. Georges

Nicole J. Georges is a writer, illustrator, podcaster, and professor from Portland, OR.