How to (not) come out to your flatmates


Team Dattch, the lesbian app

I recently moved out of my family home into a flat in London. Because I’ve been told that I’m an adult and should do that. My arrested development has lasted long enough. It’s time to have a bed I can have sex in that is not in the room next to my parents.

So I set about flat-hunting and found a great place in East London with some nice German people. Well, they seem nice; I don’t know them properly yet and they don’t know me, which means, at some point, they’ll find out that I’m gay.

Since I’m a femme, I’m unfairly afforded passing privilege and have to continually come out to most people I meet. Sometimes, this leads to a pleasant conversation with someone about how their sister is gay or they live next to a lesbian couple. This is fine with me as they’re just trying to say, “Hey, I get it. That’s OK by me,” the only way they know how, which, when you think about it, is far from being the worst response a person could get.

Other times, people like to crack a joke out of discomfort, give you a cheeky wink or ask you awkward questions. I know their brains are just exploding as they try and suppress the urge to just scream in my face, “BUT HOW DO YOU SEX?”

Again, I can handle these responses. What I’ve had almost no experience with is a truly negative reaction to my telling them I’m a lezzer; I’m completely unprepared for this event.

I’d love to think I’d have some bad-ass retort and that my brain will switch into ninja mode, conjuring up some witty, biting, life-altering sentence that just destroys and turns them into a pillar of salt that I can casually kick over and walk away from. However, I anticipate I will mostly fumble my words, leave awkwardly and cry in the toilets. Not that this isn’t a valid reaction to a homophobic, personal attack but my ego would like to believe I’m capable of the former.

So how could I tell the two strangers I’m now living with that I’m gay? It’s not like they’re casual acquaintances at a party who I can verbally obliterate then abandon; I have to live with these people, which is what stopped me just taking a deep breath and saying, “I’m a lesbian.”

I’ve never been great at breaking news to people; I blurt things out or try to cover things with humor. I admitted to my mum that I was a smoker by leaving a message on my bedroom door:

“Mum, those cigarettes you found were mine. I didn’t tell you because I’m a pussy. As you can tell from this note.”

Very mature.

In my effort to be a proper grown-up, it would probably have been a good idea to just drop something casually into conversation and see if my flatmates pickup on lesbo clues like “girlfriend,” “Candy bar,” “Tegan and Sara.” But with English not being their first language, I couldn’t bank on that working.

On my first day in my new flat, I sat in the kitchen with my flatmates, a guy and a girl, and we got to know each other a little bit. They asked me where I worked and I saw my opportunity. Dattch, a dating app that’s just for girls definitely implies lesbo, so I went with it. But then there was nothing; no conversation followed and no real acknowledgement of what I was trying to say. Maybe they didn’t get it.

I then thought of a convenient way to tell them I’m gay without actually having to tell them. I brought a friend over to the flat, introduced her to them, we had dinner and then had sex in my new room. Because that’s how grown-ups deal with things. I REGRET NOTHING!

Dattch — The Lesbian App is out for iOS and Android. Loved by, AfterEllen and Autostraddle, we are the social platform for all things gay. Free download!

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