Thursday, December 20, 2007

Living in a queer community -- intentionally

How having three roomies proved a good move
PERSONAL POLITICAL / Lessons learned on the intentional community front

Ariel Troster / / Thursday, December 20, 2007

There's no such thing as too much information at Queer Nation. That's the moniker that my roommates and I have given to our eclectic household, composed of an AIDS outreach worker, a government computer analyst, a police officer and a writer. Recent dinner-table conversation topics have included the joys of prostate orgasm, the fact that kale is the new vegetable du jour, and which $10 bottle of wine should become the house red.

We also muse about when we're finally going to get off our butts to take over the local community association and reverse its long-standing policy of targeting the sex workers who work down the street from us. Every few days, we haggle over who's going to do the grocery shopping and clean the bathroom — you know, family stuff. Because that's what we are to each other.

If you had told me two years ago that I would be sharing my home with three people, one bathroom and two cats, I would have laughed at you. I never thought I was one for communal living. The concept always conjured up images of white kids with dreadlocks, vegan slop, and seemingly endless consensus-building sessions. None of these things are bad per se, I'm just not the "back to the land" type. I like privacy and some degree of individual space. I spend so much of my time focussing on politics and activism, the last thing I want to do when I get home is join an impromptu committee meeting.

But at this time last year, I faced a dilemma. I had just split with my partner, and found myself in possession of a big house, an even bigger mortgage, and only the vaguest idea of how to care for it. My ex and I had already taken on two roommates in an effort to pay the bills, so when she moved out, I added one more. I decided that as a single woman, I couldn't afford the financial or emotional burden of running a large household on my own. So I asked my housemates to pitch in. Before I knew it, I had unintentionally created an "intentional community." And the transformation that took place in the last 12 months has left an indelible mark both on my domestic life and on my activism.

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