"Should we just say we're roommates?" I asked my partner as we got out of our car. We were heading to an impromptu viewing of an apartment in Yonkers, NY. En route to our originally scheduled open house, the owner canceled, and told us the listing was already taken. This was a huge disappointment, as the apartment was ideal size-, budget-, and location-wise. Earlier that week, for another listing, we were told by a broker that the owner didn't think we "met the application requirements," although, in my honest opinion, we exceeded them.
We didn't want to say what we thought. Could...could this be because of us? How dare they? They should be honored to have us! I was irritated, and angry, and actually a tiny bit humored. This had to be a joke. Never had I considered our queer coupling to be an issue finding an apartment in New York. Income, sure. Credit, maybe. Race, definitely. But now this extra layer of prejudice determined whether or not we'd be considered great tenants (i.e. paying rent on time, being respectful neighbors, and not punching holes in all of the walls). The only thing this Brooklyn girl wanted to worry about was leaving her borough for what she considered the countryside. As if relocating isn't emotional enough, I also have to wonder, intuitively and without any real proof, if there is another reason whenever we don't hear back.
"Should we just say we're roommates?" Technically we are, I argued. Jay pointed out that we aren't roommates, and what two roommates look at one-bedroom apartments? What's worse than trying to hide who we are, she continued, is trying to hide something that couldn't be hidden. (I love her.)
Not long ago, I wrote about why I no longer come out. While I still don't come out, instead choosing to stay out, there are days when I want to go back into the closet--especially as a means of survival. Though I'm a lesbian woman of color, in many ways, I experience economic, cisgender and ableist privileges. It's easier to stay out of the closet when you don't have to worry about your livelihood as much. After explaining my genuine shock (and naiveté) to a friend, she shared that she and her partner had once gone through a taxing application process to buy a home. Right before signing the deal, the owner informed their lawyer that she had prayed on the decision, and decided they weren't the right fit. This was less than two years ago.
Times may be slowly changing, but I like to think we're evolving at a faster rate. Jay and I are still looking for the best home for us. And being the kind of stubborn and uncompromising, yet optimistic and positive people we are, we're not going to sell our integrity or dignity for that home. This decision will likely make the process longer and harder, but at least we'll sleep at night no matter where we rest our heads. Hopefully, though, that'll be in a two-bed-one-bath-separate-kitchen-with-dishwasher-laundry-onsite-and-street-side-parking-thank-you-!