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Who's the Asshole?
November 30, 2000
I just moved in with someone I didn't know in New York City. I would've preferred to move into my own place, but I'm poor. Now, a week into living here, I find out my roommate is gay. I'm not. I'm leaving. I think he should have told me he was gay before I moved in. Who's the asshole?
Pissed Off In NY
Unless your big, gay roommate threatened to rape your tiny, straight butthole, you're the asshole. If you simply can't live with gay men, POINY, you might want to get the hell out of New York and move to some Godforsaken shithole that no self-respecting gay man would be caught dead in. Like Iowa. There are an awful lot of gay men in New York City, and while you can run from your gay roommate, you can't hide from the rest of us. Sooner or later you're gonna have to get a haircut or eat in a restaurant or ride on a subway and... guess what? When you do, there are gonna be gay men checkin' out your butt. Why not stay put and get used to it?
I can't believe you wrote me back. Honestly, so many classified ads for roommates advertise a person's sexual preference. I guess I thought it was a normal disclaimer, that if someone was gay he told you before you moved in.
I'm sorry, POINY, but your response to my response was wholly unsatisfactory. Why do you feel you have to move? Are you afraid of gay men? Did your roommate put the moves on you? What? I'm curious because I've shared apartments with straight guys and it's never been a problem. Their girlfriends hung out, my boyfriends hung out, the rent got paid--no problem. So what's the problem?
Honestly, here's the scoop: The first day I move in, Mark, my new roommate, asks this guy who's doing me the favor of driving my stuff around in his pickup truck if we can swing by and pick up some stuff of Mark's in Harlem. That annoys me right off. Then Mark tells me he can't find keys for me, but he assures me he'll be there all day. I go out with my girlfriend, come back, and... he's gone. We had to climb through the window. The next morning, Mark's CD alarm clock goes off at 6:00 in the morning--really loud--and Mark isn't even home. I go to work, and when I come home, Mark's torn up all the cardboard boxes I moved in with to make some sculpture. His little project leaves behind a brown puddle which has been sitting on the kitchen floor for four days now. The first day I moved in there was a half-eaten tray of Chinese food, which sat there until I saw roaches on it and threw it away. This morning I'm woken at 6:00 a.m. by Mark blasting Tori Amos. All of this was the precursor to me being pissed off after stepping in the brown, cardboard puddle, walking into the living room, and noticing his big stack of gay porn mags sitting in a corner. It was the last straw.
Honestly, I feel like a "Look, I don't know if you give a fuck, but I'm gay" would have been helpful before I put my deposit in. Maybe I would've taken the apartment anyway, but it would have given me pause. Is there a nice way to say living with a gay person makes me a little uncomfortable? No. Do I have to announce my heterosexuality? No, everyone assumes you're straight unless you tell them otherwise. I know it's not fair, but there it is. And, frankly, Mark being gay is something I would prefer to have known before I moved in. And, still being honest, it would've taken more than a just a shrug on my part and saying, "Hey, I'm not a homophobe" for me to accept this living situation. I would've had to work through the whole gay thing in my head before saying, "Hey, there is not a single, teeny, tiny little thing about being gay that annoys or offends me."
Honestly, POINY, instead of telling you he's gay, wouldn't you have been better off if your roommate had warned you that he's an inconsiderate, presumptuous, sloppy asshole before you moved in? Try to separate your roommate's sexuality from his Chinese food cartons, Tori Amos, and that brown puddle. And, as you pack up your things, consider this: There are plenty of inconsiderate, presumptuous, sloppy assholes out there who just so happen to be--are you sitting down?--every inch a straight man. The fact that Mark's a homo seems like the least of your worries. Wouldn't you prefer a roommate who quietly sucked dick in his room all day to one who leaves brown puddles on the kitchen floor?
Yes, he probably should've told you he was gay. The fact that he didn't only serves to emphasize the overarching problem: This Mark person is an inconsiderate dipshit. But that doesn't get you off the hook, POINY. Just as Mark shouldn't have assumed that you wouldn't need to "work through the whole gay thing in [your] head" before moving in, YOU shouldn't assume that all single men in New York who are looking for roommates are straight.
And honestly, POINY, there's a lot about being gay that annoys and offends me. If I can be gay and still find some things about it annoying and offensive (rainbows, mustaches, crystal meth), a big, strong straight guy like you should be able to live with a gay guy. So don't rule out all gay men as potential roommates during your apartment search, okay? There are a lot of gay guys in New York (and elsewhere) who don't make brown puddles anywhere but their own beds, or leave half-eaten food lying out for roaches. There are also gay guys who don't blast Tori Amos at 6:00 in the morning (or ever), and most gay men keep their porn on computers, where it belongs, and not stacked up in their living rooms. And a lot of us have great apartments, POINY, and chicks dig great apartments.
Now I want you to go back to the beginning of this column and read your original letter. Your original question was "Who's the asshole?" Clearly, your roommate is--what you got wrong was the reason why. It isn't Mark's gayness that makes him an asshole, but Mark's stupid behavior, which has nothing to do with sex. Not telling you he was gay before you moved in is, I'll grant you, more evidence that Mark's inconsiderate, but it's not proof that all gay men make bad roommates. Right?
Yes, you're exactly right. Thanks.