How not to Advertise Looking for a Roommate

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 18, 2007 11:19 PM GMT
    I live mostly in Spain but have a place in the US' upper Midwest where I am doing some doctoral work. I have not lived there long and now spend very little time there. One of our roommates is moving out, and so I put an advert on craigslist for another.

    In past adverts I put a link to a video about a going away party for one of our roommates last year (The video, if you are interested, is in my videos on my profile). I thought the video served to show a bit of who we were as well as touch on the fact that two of us are gay.

    I did not put the video on this latest advert as I realized it might seem I think it fine to make make unwelcome advances to the other roommates. The video is fine (maybe funny) if you know us, but could be misconstrued if you do not and are thinking of rooming with us.

    Anyway, we've had some responses to the ad. My roommate who is going to show the place is gay and from the area. He told me that it was uncool that there was no mention of the fact that a couple of us are gay in the advert. And he made me email the responders telling them so as well as change the ad.

    I agree regarding avoiding confusion or unnecessary conflict, but am still REALLY confused by this. I honestly don't get why this is a problem. My roommate says it is a cultural thing and also points out that I would not see it as a problem as I am the one who is gay (perhaps).

    I ended up writing in the ad "hetero-friendly or gay-friendly, depending on your perspective."

    The question is what would you write in an ad if you were looking for a roommate and wanted to be open to gay or straight?

    I am casually curious about word-smithing, but more about the idea of putting it front and center as if who you dated should be anyone's concern.

    There are a lot of caveats I could write here and clarifications. But this is getting too long so I will let it at this and clarify as need be.
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    Sep 18, 2007 11:33 PM GMT
    It doesn't take too many kooks to spoil your day. I am supposing your friend is reacting to the non-gay-friendly people who responded to the ad, had come over in response to ad, didnt like the fact that there were gays in the house, and got upset. Whew!

    I wouldnt however advertise that gays lived in the apt. That just invites real, serious, possibly violent kooks to call or show up.

    So I would put in something like "liberal household," but then quickly add "no drugs." The "liberal household" will get people to ask what that means before they come over or cause them to ask when they show up, so your friend doesnt have to bring the subject up out of the blue while showing the place.

    ...just my suggestion
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    Sep 18, 2007 11:36 PM GMT
    When I've put up an ad for a housemate I've usually just written something like this, "24yo gay guy looking for housemate etc...." so whoever's interested in the room knows who their living with.

    Some people aren't comfortable living with gay people for many reasons; personal belief/preference, associating with gay people (peer/family judgment), trauma (sexual assault victims) or simply that they aren't familiar with gay culture and unsure of what to expect.

    Letting your potential new housemate know that they're living with a gay guy pretty much says it all and avoids possible confusion, embarrassment and/or violence. If you weren't gay but had many gay friends then maybe you could say that the place is a gay friendly environment or something. It's kinda like smoking, not everyone does it or tolerates it.
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    Sep 18, 2007 11:40 PM GMT
    another two cents....

    Personally I wouldn't have put a video up because it'll show what possessions you have in the house and for potential thieves, you've given them a tour of the house (layout of your house), shown where everything is and they know that you live alone.
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    Sep 18, 2007 11:47 PM GMT
    Caslon and Jime, you both have good points, and I like your suggestions.

    Just in case anyone may have thought it, I in no way mean to bad mouth my room-mate (who I love dearly) or anyone's perspective, culture, whatever.

    My confusion comes from the actual moment when I think to write it down somehow in an advert that I am gay. Yes, the reality is a lot of people just don't like gay people or gay-ness. But something about this does not sit right with me and I'm not sure why.

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    Sep 18, 2007 11:55 PM GMT
    It doesnt sit right with you probably because it is bigotry and prejudice. You feel offended that you should have to even think about how to express this in an advertisement. That's understandable. But this is the way the US is right now and it is not a battle to wage in a room-mate ad, in my humble opinion.

    Life will never be totally fair. So pick your battles and use your time more productively for yourself.
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    Sep 19, 2007 12:30 AM GMT
    It will probably save both you and prospective roommates headaches and effort. If you think about it, a straight person wouldn't mention that in their advert. In fact, if you were gay and wanted to take up a room offer with straights you'd probably have to mention you're gay also. It's always us who have to mention it because straightness is "assumed" by default. And I suppose that makes sense in a way since there's supposedly significantly more of them.

    Basically in either case, you're acknowledging the fact that some people don't like gays enough to where it is a deal breaker as far as rooming arrangements go. You're also acknowledging that in society straightness is assumed unless otherwise stated. Not necessarily bad things to acknowledge. Just how things are.
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    Sep 19, 2007 12:35 AM GMT
    Why don't you just advertise it as a "gay houseshare" that way straight people know what they are getting into and can make their own decision as to whether they want to live there? You may get straight women enquiring as they don't want to live with straight men.
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    Sep 19, 2007 2:41 AM GMT
    I think frankly, that it is ridiculous to advertise that some gays live in a house in an advert for a roommate. If you live in a deeply homophobic area, then it is madness to advertise your phone number or address to the masses. On the other hand, if you do not, it is that simple. Being gay is not like smoking--it does not cause cancer--nor is it like having a large number of pets--people do not have allergies to gayness.

    I mean, noone obtains a roommate who hasn't visited the house and had a chat with the residents, surely? If you are flaming (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that) then the person might guess you're gay and if they have some preference not to live with a gay man, then they have the opportunity not to sign the contract. On the other hand, if the person seems a bit clueless it is I think perfectly reasonable to, *very politely* say something like "just in case you hadn't realised, one [or whatever] of our housemates is gay and we just thought we'd let you know that so you can make an informed decision". You don't have to idenitfy which one or more than one.

    As ever, diplomacy and manners can handle things far better than a misguided and blatant advert that merely encourages negative stereotyping and legitimises prejudice.

    And if you really really must cow-tow to the stupidity and ignorance of the masses, then I think more descriptive words like "artistic" are better to use by way of a euphemism.
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Sep 19, 2007 3:04 AM GMT
    TigerTimif they have some preference not to live with a gay man, then they have the opportunity not to sign the contract. On the other hand, if the person seems a bit clueless it is I think perfectly reasonable to, *very politely* say something like "just in case you hadn't realised, one [or whatever] of our housemates is gay and we just thought we'd let you know that so you can make an informed decision".


    'Screening' homophobic applicants may be done for several reasons. If it were me, I wouldn't want to waste my time talking to someone who had hangups unless there were few applicants. Also, one may just want to avoid contact with intolerant people in general, especially in their own homes. Those two things would be plenty enough reason for me to specify that there are gay men in the house. I wouldn't be surprised if that's how the other roommate felt.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 19, 2007 3:33 AM GMT
    Imaxim: We have found that talking with people briefly on the phone is a great filter. There are all kids of reasons why you may not choose to live in a certain house. I've been in this situation a lot -- I had to start my PhD at short notice and move in with randoms, i had to move in with randoms for a couple of months between houses and also a roommate dropped out on a group of us a couple of times during my stint at uni.

    I think there is no reason to mention gay in the advert at all. Unless you ONLY want gay applicants, and IMHO that is probably not on either -- far better to choose your advertising location. If you want a gay roommate, advertise in a gay paper! If you advertise on a noticeboard at the uni, art gallery, in coffee shops, etc. you'll get a different broad category of applicant.

    I think there is something potentially very revealing about housing adverts: perhaps the OP was subconsciously recollecting adverts from the past that read "No Jews" or "No blacks"? I remember seeing an advert saying "No Chinese" recently and was similarly appalled. I totally recognise that the sort of phrase we're talking about is supposed to inform rather than exclude, but providing such information nonetheless perpetuates the prejudice.
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    Sep 19, 2007 3:46 AM GMT
    I live in Austin, a fairly open minded town. Was looking for a roommate a couple months ago, my advertisement was rather long but mostly described me.

    To me, I would like to know my roommates. We don't have to be best friends, but I want to know as much about them as I can, so I let them know as much about me as possible. In my ad (on craigslist) I did mention I was gay, and it went something like this. '23 year old gay white guy, don't care what you are.' That was the only reference, but it made things easier. I ended up with a 23 year old ex-navy straight guy and we got along great aside that he and his girlfriend were annoying as hell when they were drunk.

    In the end, I don't think it would have mattered either way, but depending on the living situation, homosexuality is something good to note. It ain't the end of the world if you don't. However, it could lead to unnecessary problems down the road, or it could be just fine. It's up to you really.
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    Sep 19, 2007 4:02 AM GMT
    I agree with Tigertim.

    R
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 19, 2007 4:06 AM GMT
    Actually, in the US, it's dangerous to put in your ad that you're gay. Anything which could be seen as potentially indicating a preference for a particular race, creed, familiar status, age, etc could be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. If you're renting out 4 or fewer units, and you live in one of them, you're actually allowed to discriminate however you want, but you can't indicate this in any way in the ad or you can be on the hook for up to $10k in fines. You can't even describe the neighborhood in ways that might indicate a preference. For example, I can't state in an ad that I'm less than half a mile from one particular synagogue, as that could be construed as preferring a Jewish renter.

    The only normally protected category you are allowed to discriminate on is sex, and that is only if you're sharing either a kitchen or a bathroom.
  • trebor965

    Posts: 200

    Sep 19, 2007 4:49 AM GMT
    looking for a roomie!

    i put my boyfriends weiner in my mouth sometimes, but not at breakfast. large spacious rooms, sunny windows, wood floors. fenced in yard, etc. call to make an appt.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11648

    Sep 19, 2007 11:04 AM GMT
    sometimes you have to be careful about what you say in ads ...
    some places still have some very antiquated laws about exclusionary real estate and rental practices

    but I think if you put open to all lifestyles ...
    and stay away from the word gay
    that should be ok
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 19, 2007 11:32 AM GMT
    Why not just say, gay-friendly and straight-friendly? That way you're not discriminating, but if somebody is really uncomfortable living with someone who is gay, they probably aren't going to check out a household advertised as gay-friendly.

    Trying to use euphemisms, like artistic, is just going to confuse people like me who would never guess that that had anything to do with sexuality, and the bigots you're trying to avoid probably won't get it either.
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    Sep 19, 2007 12:07 PM GMT
    The town in the US is fairly liberal, which is part of the reason why I didn't think it a problem.

    And I have just gone through a similar situation here in Barcelona, but NEVER mentioned that I was gay. I got a roommate who is hetero (and DAMN gorgeous!!!!) and who doesn't give a shit about me being gay. It never crossed my mind it might be a problem.

    We are becoming good friends and he is even modeling for one of my clients who I also have a video of in my videos (BTW - the video I mention way above is called German Hotness in Da Haus, and the video for my client/friend is Gabriel Croissier).

    I thought about this more after posting and wondered in what ways does this dovetail into, crossover, or even have anything to do with coming out?

    Personally I am fine telling people I am gay, but Caslon points out above that here it seems I am doing it to avoid the biased and so am not so cool with it. I'm still mulling this over.
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    Sep 19, 2007 12:59 PM GMT
    Just put biggots need not apply and it caters for all areas of society :-)
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    Sep 19, 2007 2:55 PM GMT
    Well said TigerTim.
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    Sep 19, 2007 3:04 PM GMT
    MadApollo, I think you are such a cool guy on so many levels, but on this issue, I seriously think you are making it far more complicated than it need be.

    It is indeed a 'cultural thing' as your friend has pointed out and though we would ideally not need to specify such matters, reality needs to be addressed.

    I live in what may be considered the most socially progressive society in North America and yet I would still make an important point of mentioning my sexual orientation in an advert for a roommate. Even if I lived in Barcelona, I'd be sure to make mention of my orientation. Its the most effective way to attract the sort of people that you might want as roommates and (hopefully) avoid the undesirables.

    I'd start my advert something like this:
    Gay-friendly household - seeking 3rd roommate (M or F).
    Seeking 3rd roommate (M or F) to share with 2 GWM.

    If your current (gay and locally-raised) roommate thinks that there should be mention of the 'gay factor' then I'm guessing that the local climate is tolerant enough not to worry about cross-burning psychos pitching camp on your lawn.

    Also,I completely agree with jim_e with regards to the video; too informative for would-be thieves.

    Good Luck!

  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Sep 19, 2007 3:10 PM GMT
    Some great advice here. Silly how we have to worry about these sort of things in this day and age.

    Why not put something like, 'must love musical theatre and the feel of a naked male body', that may bet around the not using the word Gay thing.

    I think Tiger Tim's advice about where you put the advert is the best though, as that would immediately weedle out the people you don't want (in this case bigots).

    Good luck

    Lozx

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    Sep 19, 2007 4:41 PM GMT
    In a perefect world, it really shouldn't matter. Unfortunately, the world today is far from perfect.

    I do agree with TigerTim and think it would be appropriate to mention it if you think the applicant has a good chance at being considered.

    Perhaps you can use a phrase like "diverse household" or maybe even include a small rainbow flag somewhere in your advertisement.

    I've seen your video before and I think it's great. Not sure how I feel about it being included, though. It does give a good idea about your personality, not to mention shows how talented and creative you are. :-)

    Take care,
    Jorel





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    Sep 19, 2007 6:00 PM GMT
    I didn't mean to sound like I was either complaining or being a primadona about this, initially I saw no point, then I saw little way of saying it without turning it into a bigger issue than it seemed, but many of your fine responses helped with that last point.

    As for the video, it really doesn't show anything more than the fotos of the house do, but I think it may send the wrong message to anyone who does not know us.

    To be honest, I'm still trying to think and feel through why this was an issue for me. Like I said, I don't have a problem coming out, but I felt it was intrusive to have to tell someone who was going to room with me about this. I wonder why is that?

    Part of the reason I mentioned it in this forum is to get perspectives on the idea of normalicy. In the west gay is both normal and not normal. It is normal enough to have a gay character on TV and even gayborhoods, but it is not so normal as to make no difference whatsoever.

    The common understanding in this thread for instance says that wisdom and courtesy dictate mentioning that one is gay. It seems the only reason for doing that is to deal with potential bias as there really is no other factor about being gay that is consistent across the board. I mean that me being gay may not look at all like you reading this or anyone else being gay. So it comes down, it seems, to simply avoiding bias. What do you guys think?

    Thanks to EVERYONE for your fantastic thinking and responses. It is all very very helpful!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 19, 2007 7:36 PM GMT
    When I was searching for a roommate to help with the mortgage, I struggled with how to write my ad. I felt that if I said "gay guy looking for roommate" that it would have personal ad connotations. I didn't necessarily want a gay guy anyway, nor did I want to ward off tolerant straight guys who weren't sure if I had an ulterior motive. Perhaps it was overly cautious, but I found myself getting that with lots of things that might affect my first home.

    So I ended the ad with "No druggies, deadbeats, or homophobes, please."

    I ended up getting an easy going, considerate, low-drama straight guy and he lived in my place for three years. Seems the "no homophobes" took care of the gay issue in the optimal way for me.