Now that you’ve settled into your new living space, it’s time for you to start making it a home. Whether you’re living in a basement apartment, a condo, or a split-level house, or whether you rent or pay a mortgage, you need to make a major decision. Should you put your time, energy, and money into impressing others, or do you focus on creating a safe and peaceful living space where you can be authentic and where your surroundings reflect all that you love—including your LGBTQ identity.
Far too often, those of us growing up queer learned that the best way to fit in and avoid conflict was to defer to the wishes of others. In fact, for many of us we lost sight of our needs. So we did what our parents and peers wanted us to do.
But here’s the good news! Now, as an adult, your new home can and should reflect your needs, passions, and style. Your home can become a haven where you can be you. It can be a place to show your LGBTQ pride—as well as a place to escape from this crazy, chaotic, and sometimes scary world.
Here are some practical ideas to help you love and appreciate your home.
Display your LGBTQ artwork, prints, sculptures, memorabilia, books, flags, and whatever else is queerly you. Remember that your surroundings are a reflection of you. Be a proud and secure you, not a you filled with shame and insecurity. Never introduce negativity or shame into your safe space. And if you feel that uncomfortable with certain folks visiting, you might want to reevaluate your relationship with them.
Draw a floor plan of your home. Start to illustrate your ideas for each room. Find free apps to help you envision the details. Experiment with colors and fabrics and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone.
Fill your home with kindness. Make it a welcoming place. You might consider turning one room into a guest room. No extra bedroom? Put a pullout couch, futon, or air mattress in the living room for overnight guests.
Let your home be a place of fun and creativity. Whether you are single or partnered, be playful. Invite friends over with their pets, enjoy board games, host a trivia night, play cards, watch sports, or binge on The L Word.
Focus your attention on your own home. All too often, we wind up comparing ourselves (and our homes) to others. Envy can rear its ugly head. Just remember that your basement apartment may be filled with a lot more love, laughter, fun, and friendship, than a family member’s $2M estate.
Here are some tips for couples.
Surround yourself with love. Proudly display photos of vacations, outings, and celebrations.
Enjoy the process together. Have fun assembling your IKEA furniture and DIY projects. Listen to your favorite music and podcasts while you work together. Have friends over to help as well.
Compromise on furnishings and decorations. As difficult as it can be, don’t agree to something you know you will resent.
Finally, take pride in your home—no matter the size, cost, age, or neighborhood. After all, when it comes to memories, it’s not about the big screen television, or the pool, or the yard, but about the love inside.