By Jody Valley
Lost at home
Q: I am writing you because I have a problem that I just don’t know how to solve. I live in a house with three other women. We have all signed a rental lease that is for 10 more months. I want out of the lease because I found out that one of the women I live with is prejudiced. Recently I was taking a nap in my bedroom, “Sarah” didn’t know I was at home because I usually work during the day, but had come home because I wasn’t feeling well. I got up to come out to the living room when I heard my name mentioned, so I stopped to listen to see what was being said about me. Well, Sarah starts talking about how freakish she thinks I am because I’m a lesbian, and how she can’t stand it when I bring home my “butches.” She goes on and on about how she is weirded out by the whole scene and thinks I should just stop bringing these weirdoes home. “Ann,”(my other roommate) said she should stop talking like that, and that there is nothing wrong with being lesbian and the women I bring home are different but nice. Well, Sarah just laughed and said Ann was as crazy as I am.
Well, I walked out in the room just then and of course there was dead silence. I confronted Sarah about what she had just said and how prejudiced and hateful she is. She actually just defended her beliefs saying she had a right to think what she thinks and if I didn’t like it, I should pack up and move out. And if I choose to stay, she would appreciate it if I would keep my friends away from the apartment. At that point, we ended up in a shouting match, and I ran out of the apartment crying.
Now, a week later we are still all living under the same roof, but Sarah and I aren’t speaking to each other, and there is a lot of tension between all of us. No one has said anything about the fight, but it is always “there” when I am home. In fact, my home is no longer a home for me. I don’t feel safe. I don’t know what my other two roommates think and I just hate to even come home. If Sarah is home when I am at home, she just has this smirk on her face and then walks away. We basically aren’t speaking to each other. I can’t move out because I signed a lease, and I can’t live like this for the next 10 months. I feel so intimidated that I can’t even bring my friends home now. What should I do to get out of this? Home Persecution
A: Of course hindsight is 20/20, but did all your roommates know that you are a lesbian before you all moved in together? Were any household rules discussed or established before signing the lease? As you probably know by now, it is important to discuss where people are coming from and what their expectations are before moving in with them. Also, what does your lease say about moving out early? Can you sublease to anyone? Would your roommates be willing to help you find another person to sublease, if you can’t?
If I were in your shoes, I’d think about what you would want to happen. For instance, do you want to move? Do you want Sarah to move? Do you want to find a way to make living together for the next 10 months tolerable?
Then, since you haven’t yet talked to your roommates, I would set up a time when you know Sarah won’t be home and talk with the other two roommates about how you are feeling regarding what happened. See what they are thinking and feeling about it. I’m sure this has had ramifications for everyone living there. Open up discussion about how they feel about you and the friends you bring home. There may not be any easy answer if you can’t get out of your lease, but if you have open communication with two of the roommates it may make your place seem more tolerable.