This website is produced by the Tenants’ Union of NSW in collaboration with the network of Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services
TENANTS' UNION OF NSW
TENANTS ADVICE AND ADVOCACY SERVICES OF NSW
When home isn't safe: Queer women and housing
Published on 08/03/2016
Indigo Dunphy is a 20 year old queer person who, at the time of interviewing, was living in a share house with another queer woman and two straight men. She has a girlfriend, Lisa*, who stayed over regularly.
Have you ever found yourself in difficult living situations or accommodation stress?
Yeah I would say so. In both share houses I lived in I had to move out due to feeling uncomfortable. In the first house it was emotional but in the second house I felt physically unsafe. One of my housemates Andrew* was always a little bit iffy, making weird comments about women and sexualising me or my other housemate Melanie*. I put it down to just house banter but I felt a little uncomfortable. He was always very nice to my girlfriend, Lisa, but I got the feeling he didn’t really see us as a couple.
He also had no respect for my privacy or alone time. He was always knocking on the door. I had been warned that he could get aggressive when I first moved in, and I was told there was a lock on my door. But I kinda just shrugged it off. Anyway the straw that broke the camel’s back was when he punched someone in our home.
What were your options when that happened?
My options when that happened were to find another house or move home. I chose to go home because it was cheaper and more comfortable. Also because I felt let down by people and the ability to find good housemates, where my queerness and body wasn’t sexualised or I wasn’t made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe in my own house.
What does the future look like for you?
My personal future looks like me staying at my parents’ house until I can afford to find a decent house that hopefully has less creepy people living in it. Basically the more money I have the more choices I can make of who I want to live with.
Anything else you would like to say about women and housing?
Well, I just watched a documentary on domestic violence and it was super messed up. I haven’t experienced that but the potential threat I felt in my previous house was enough for me to run away and hide. If women are being sexualised by their housemates, feel like if they don’t lock their doors something bad might happen, or feel physically threatened by the actions of their housemates, even if it’s not directed at them, then that’s a problem.
And queer women always have the threat of “correcting” sexual violence or just homophobia. Which makes living situations super hard because if you can’t be yourself in your own home then where can you?