Living in a Hotel

Paul Groth wrote an excellent book, Living Downtown, about the history of hotel life in the United States, particularly San Francisco. One of the many interesting points made in the book is that, prior to 1950, hotel life was one of the best options for queer people – it was affordable, it was not unusual for people of the same gender to share a room to save money, and they could get away from family and anybody else personally interested in their private life.

I myself have lived in a hotel.

One of the advantages of life in the hotel is that there was a ready-made social life . If I ever felt like chatting, I could just go up to the common room and there would be somebody to chat with. I formed friendships with some of the other residents, and I talked to many travelers. I even got a job through one of the people I met at the hotel. Having the built-in social network was very important to me, considering the instability of my life at the time.

Now for a disadvantage.

While I generally don’t go around outing myself as asexual, the hotel was the only place I have ever been where I felt it was important that people not discover I am asexual. Almost everybody at the hotel espoused left-wing political views – but I cannot say they had a truly liberal world view. If anybody challenging their rigid notions about how people’s lives should work, there could be a nasty blow back. For example, if one suggested that someone should not use the word ‘retard’ – and that word was used quite frequently – it could start a long and tiring argument about how people should use whatever words they want, and then the next day they would go back to using the r-word and then make jokes about how politically correct one is.

One time, it came out that I have never been drunk. At first they didn’t believe me, but once they believed me, it became a running gag, and they put me under some pressure to start drinking. It wasn’t a big deal, but if I had known that would have been the outcome, I would not have disclosed my teetotaler status. And that’s when I knew for sure that I could not tell anyone there that I was asexual – if that’s how they reacted to me not drinking alcohol, how would they have reacted to the fact that I had never had sex? While I do not think it was likely that they would take it as far as sexual harassment, I was not able to dismiss the possibility. I did not lie about my sexual orientation … fortunately (or unfortunately) asexuality is still so unknown in the public consciousness that not commenting on one’s asexuality is enough to hide it.

2 thoughts on “Living in a Hotel

  1. Pingback: The Impact of Who Shares Your Residence | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

  2. Pingback: Actively vs. Passively Staying in the Closet | The Notes Which Do Not Fit

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