Here are some tips for being a queer friendly flat, and a good friend:
- Gender neutral language – If you’re moving in with flatmates who you don’t know very well, use gender-neutral language, such as “do you have a partner?” Hearing that you haven’t made assumptions will help flatmates to talk openly about their sexuality.
- Confidentiality – If a flatmate ‘comes out’ to you, thank them for trusting you. Is this person telling everyone or just you? Ask them about who knows and reassure them you will keep what they say to yourself. Some people come out to everyone, all at once, others come out in gradual stages.
- Pronouns – If you’re unsure about a flatmate’s gender, ask them how they identify their gender or what pronouns they use. Another option is to simply use ‘they/them’ pronouns until you get to know them. Listen to the language they use to describe themselves and reflect that back.
- Be consistent – If a flatmate comes out as trans and asks you to start using a different pronoun, do your best to use the correct pronoun all the time, even when they’re not in the room. It’s easy to slip up at first, but if you do just correct yourself and carry on.
- Privacy – Check in with your flatmate about how you can respect their privacy as some trans folk experience varying levels of discomfort with their body.
- Finding stuff out – It’s great to be curious about another person’s identities, but try not to be intrusive. Make sure your flatmate is ok with answering questions. If you lack knowledge about a flatmate’s identity and feel uncomfortable asking questions talk with us at OUSA Queer Support!
- Humour – Avoid using slurs or making bad jokes about people’s sexuality or gender, even if the particular group you’re joking about isn’t represented in your flat.
- Belonging – If your flat is mostly made up of queer students be prepared for cis-gender or straight flatmates to feel a bit left out at times. Remember we all come from different backgrounds and bring with us differing levels of knowledge and experience.
- Being supportive – Many people experience mental health issues, and rates are high in the rainbow community. Let flatmates know you’re happy to lend an ear. If a flatmate’s experiencing an issue beyond your abilities, support them to seek professional help. Have an open discussion about what problems might arise and strategies for ensuring everyone feels supported and safe in their home.
- FUN – Plan a fun flat outing to queer events such OUSA Queerest Tea Party or UniQ’s XO party.
Please see the Queer Support Tab for more information and resources, or fell free to get in touch with our Queer Support Coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org