Toronto
3 min

Get out of my porn!

Queer roommates can be a handful

CLOSE QUARTERS. There's a rumble in the next room. Credit: R Jeanette Martin

Roommates: If you’ve ever had one, need one or are simply anxious to murder the one you currently have, chances are that if you are gay or lesbian, so is the roommate. Why do fellow homos shack up with each other? Is it better this way or is there a collective mental blockage that prevents us from seeing that gay roomies are no easier than straight ones?



Or, for that matter, untrained pit bulls.



You know how it goes. At first you get along famously, watching TV together, eating popcorn from the same bowl. But that’s before your good mornings have degenerated into semi-audible grunts over Cheerios and you’re still flushing twice for accuracy after a bowel movement. But the honeymoon stage never lasts forever.



One day your roommate will come home with an out-of-town kid who, conveniently enough, still lives with his parents. The brat will always be in your face as an at-home third wheel. You’ll watch television trying to ignore your roommate and his toy pawing each and locking tongues. You’ll then fall asleep to the mummer of squeaky bed springs and their pig-like grunts.



It won’t take long before the guest is jerking off to your porn. After the third week of sleepovers you’ll say something about splitting the rent three ways. The fling will suddenly disappear for a week, then slowly creep back into your home.



There’s always the option of living with a gay person in denial. But from my own experience I’ve learned that the secret doesn’t last long. Still in the closet at 19, I moved in with Dennis, an 18 year-old who worshipped Madonna and men, in that order.



I insisted I was straight. But I encouraged late night games of Truth Or Dare, protesting feebly whenever the dare involved physical contact.



Whenever Dennis left the room longer than 10 minutes, I’d pull out his gay erotica coffee-table book and hurriedly masturbate, carefully replacing the book exactly as I’d found it.



Only once we had a physical fight – he tried to get me in a half nelson and I tried to pin him to the bed – until we realized we had the combined strength of a twig. So we matched wits by name-calling. When our slanderous verbal daggers were exhausted, I called him the F-word.



“Whatever,” he sneered. “You are the fag.” He left with a slam of the door and disappeared for three days. By the time he returned, I had frost-tipped hair and an earring. We bonded like no other roommates in history, and he gave me full official rights to his coffee-table book.



On another occasion, I found myself living in a rooming-house where most of the residents were gay or lesbian. Located in Toronto’s Greek neighbourhood, it was run by a lesbian couple (I’ll call them Xena and Thor) who spent most of their time strung out on crack and beer, writing songs for Melissa Etheridge that would surely make them stars, “if we could just get past the fucking record company.”



There was one other guy who lived in the house who was a part-time receptionist and kept an inexhaustible supply of crisp white towels in his closet that he had swiped from equally inexhaustible trips to the bathhouses.



After my sixth day there, Xena and Thor asked me to father their first child. They liked my attitude, they said. I was gay and breathing.



What did I do? What any naïve, hopelessly self-absorbed, directionless gay 22-year-old would do; I immediately agreed.



“Of course, anything,” I assured them, not comprehending that “anything” would require whacking off into a Gerber jar.



Luckily my silent partnership in the circle of life never happened. Xena and Thor broke up and I moved out soon after.



Is an exclusively gay male rooming-house any better? I next moved into such an arrangement in North York, run by an obsessive but unerringly efficient man in his 50s who had a penchant for posting urgent memos concerning house rules anywhere Scotch tape would stick. One could not take a piss without the underside of the toilet seat reminding him to, “Wipe invisible but odorous urine off rim.”



One on one situations are your best bet. My last gay roommate worked well, except when both of us coveted the bathroom mirror on weekend nights with the territorial drive of mating cats.



The last time I checked The 519 community centre bulletin board (where I found my two rooming houses seven years ago), there were only 16 listings seeking or offering accommodation. If only Toronto could have it like New York, where gay and lesbian people looking to shack up with the same can fork out $50 to $150 for customized roommate listings (and probably less headaches) from services like Rainbowroommates.com.



Toronto has a few other resources. The website Outintoronto.com does have a roommates section, but the last time I checked, it had only two ads and one involved fleshy ass pics.



And while there’s little chance you’ll fall in love with your roommate and live happily ever after, there’s always the reverse possibility.



Living with your partner, then breaking up six months before the lease expires. Dump him (or her) now. Get a dog.