Housing is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for gay guys. While straight people may buy a first house in the city to be near fun places, eventually they move to the suburbs to be near good public schools. Then their children unexpectedly become larger and want their own bedrooms, and the straight people have to “find something bigger”, and they move into a McMansion in the exurbs that only twenty minutes before had been a thriving woodland ecosystem.
Freed from these imperatives by biological and legal handicaps, gay guys are able to funnel their resources into housing, and often into one specific house for most of their adult lives. Without chicken pox and soccer practice to talk about, they often focus on real estate in social conversations. In big cities this may take the form, among homeowners, of glee at rising housing prices or, among renters, of despair and disgust at the undeserved fortune and shallowness of homeowners. In smaller cities this may take the form of listening to an endless elaboration of the necessary renovations to a 7500 square foot turn of the century Victorian mansion with seven bedrooms and a dumb waiter to make it habitable for two people. In both cases, there will be much discussion of renovation costs, resale value, tradeoffs between new and old construction, the perfidity of general contractors, and how best to strip paint off a balustrade.
Like everyone, gay guys like to keep up with the Joneses, and since housing is such a big chunk even of gay guys’ incomes, this is an area where it’s particularly important to keep up. Before going to an event where you will be thrown into conversation with gay guys you don’t know, look at the real estate section of your local newspaper. Is there a neighborhood close to downtown full of new luxury condo developments? Is there a neighborhood described as “up-and-coming”, or by the curiously durable euphemism “Bohemian?” These will be the neighborhoods your acquaintances will be discussing, so memorize some price points and take a close look at the houses pictured. Are they Georgian, Federal, Tudor, Victorian, Mid-Century Modern, or Rustic? If you don’t know what, say “Federal” means and are confused by their use among your gay guy interlocutors, try rolling your eyes and saying “really? Federal? I thought people were tired of that.”
Finally, under no circumstances should you assume that the gay guys you are talking to are fainting flowers who don’t know a Philips screwdriver from the kind with vodka in it. While not many gay guys do their own tuckpointing and HVAC installation, many serious renovators can (and will if not stopped) explain in great detail how they chose and installed their own insulation, how they put up their own gutters and downspouts, and how painting the master bedroom almost caused their relationship to fall apart. Always ask which renovations the gay guy did himself. If he did most of it, he’ll be thrilled to explain each step to you, and if he didn’t, he’ll be flattered you thought he could.