Thirty years ago, I responded to an ad seeking a woman to replace the advertiser in a house she shared with another young woman. Only I after I'd moved in did I learn that my new...
Help — my roommate's a lesbian!
Originally Published: November 15, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 7, 2009
I need advice. I think that my roommate is a lesbian. Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It sounds like you are distressed or concerned about your roommate's sexuality. Maybe some general information about sexuality and sexual orientation would be useful. Or maybe you are looking for a way to talk to your roommate about your inklings regarding who she is attracted to. Either way, you might try looking at the situation from another perspective, namely: lucky you. What an opportunity, and a chance, to learn about someone (presumably) different from you! This is one of the most significant benefits of living with people outside our own family — the chance to expand our horizons.
First, a quick primer on sexuality and sexual orientation. Popular culture tends to teach us that a person is either straight or gay; however many sexuality experts actually believe that humans fall on a continuum of sexual orientations, from exclusively heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex) to exclusively homosexual (attracted to the same sex). In reality there may be many people who fall between these two extremes, being attracted predominantly to one sex, but also sometimes attracted to the other, or being equally attracted to both sexes. Your roommate may fall anywhere along the spectrum, maybe she is primarily attracted to women, maybe only sometimes, or maybe not at all — what is more important to realize is that whomever she is attracted to, she is normal, as are you.
Moving on, how should you deal with your intuition? The question you may want to ask yourself is "So what?" What does it mean to you if your roommate is attracted to women or identifies herself as a lesbian? Does it affect your living situation? What are your feelings about homosexuality? Will this affect your relationship with her?
It may be helpful to think about your own reaction to the idea that your roommate is a lesbian before speaking with her. Are you upset because you wish she had told you? Are you uncomfortable with homosexuality? Maybe you are concerned about how others will react if they know you are living with a lesbian? Or that others will think you are a lesbian too? There could be many reasons for your feeling upset; some of them could be linked to homophobia (an irrational fear, and sometimes loathing, of homosexuals or homosexuality or bisexuality). As with racism, or any other "–ism", homophobia limits the potential for great relationships (roommates, friends, or otherwise).
By dealing with your own reaction, you can learn about yourself and expand your world. Remember that your roommate is the same person as she was before you had the idea that she may be a lesbian. If she had likable traits before, then she will continue to have these likable traits. If she were unpleasant before, she will probably continue to be unpleasant. Her possible lesbianism does not change your roommate at all. It just gives her another dimension (in your eyes; maybe this dimension has been apparent to her for quite a while!).
Once you've thoroughly considered your own feelings you may still want to talk to your roommate. What would you like to say to her? Perhaps it would help to write your thoughts and questions in a letter that you would not send, to clarify your feelings. You could talk with her about some of your thoughts, not by asking her to justify or explain herself, but by explaining your observations, your concerns, and your eagerness to learn. Then let her respond. She may or may not answer your questions about her sexuality directly; this is her choice. She may need your support and friendship, and could be afraid of losing it if she suspects you are uncomfortable with her orientation. If you are genuinely open to learning more, then let her know, without pressuring her to define or defend herself.
If you have more questions about being gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, or the ever useful and somewhat amorphous "questioning" category, you could check out the related questions below and
There is likely a great deal you can learn from your roommate, and not just because of her sexual orientation (whatever it may be). Maybe she is an excellent cook, or a phenomenal karaoke singer. By keeping an open mind about her supposed sexual orientation, you can maintain a congenial living situation, and maybe even strengthen a friendship.
Here's to appreciating people for who they are!
August 5, 200921579
Thirty years ago, I responded to an ad seeking a woman to replace the advertiser in a house she shared with another young woman. Only I after I'd moved in did I learn that my new housemate was a lesbian.
Then about 20 years old, I'd "never known" anyone who was gay. I was very surprised and somewhat alarmed. But even as I was figuring out my new housemate was gay, I was also learning that she was kind, warm, honest, intelligent, and good-humored. She became one of my dearest friends.
My friend & I have had wonderful snuggles together on couches, and shared beds during visits over the intervening years, but these have always been friendly, not romantic. If you are not attracted to your new roommate, she'll almost surely recognize and respect that fact.
Relax and enjoy — or struggle with — her as you would any other roommate. Realize that quite possibly she's feeling more vulnerable and fearful in this situation than you are.
If it turns out that she's a jerk or totally not your cup of tea, remember: you've known brunettes who were real pains in the tush, but that didn't mean all brunettes are to be avoided. There are good, bad, odd, and average folks of all persuasions.
And as Alice suggested, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about and open yourself up to a category of people you might never otherwise have such a great opportunity to appreciate.
January 25, 200821340
To the reader:
I discovered my roommate was a lesbian and I was nervous at first. She was a Grad student and I was a freshman which only added to my nervousness. She was sexually open and...
To the reader:
I discovered my roommate was a lesbian and I was nervous at first. She was a Grad student and I was a freshman which only added to my nervousness. She was sexually open and non-judgmental... refreshing for me coming from a small town where these things are generally not talked about. I shared many wonderful experiences with her and her friends which helped me learn much about myself. As much as they tried, I learned I'm not a lesbian and that being straight was ok too. They also helped me learn much about my own sexual pleasure, preferences, and limits. It still excites me to remember back to those experiences. Everyone needs help sometimes to learn about themselves.