After Being Told ‘I Do Not Rent to Your Kind,’ Montana Woman Shares Power of Storytelling

By Adam Polaski • December 21, 2017 • 1:06 pm

Editor’s Note: This op-ed was written by Kathleen O’Donnell, who lives with her wife Casey and her child in Laurel, MT. Read their full story here.

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“It doesn’t really happen anymore.” – That’s what most people think at the thought of LGBTQ people facing discrimination.

I used to think that, too – until I experienced discrimination firsthand.

A few years ago, I was searching for a new apartment to live in with my fiancée Casey and our child – the apartment in which we wanted to start building our life together. But when the landlord asked if Casey was “a girl or a boy” and I said she’s a woman, he shut me down, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “I do not rent to your kind.”

I shared the story with friends and family members, with my local representatives and community members, and I started to hear more and more stories like mine. There’s no doubt about it – discrimination against LGBTQ people is alive and persistent in my home state of Montana and across the country, but too many Americans are unaware.

LGBTQ people don’t have state-level protections in Montana. In fact, 32 states lack full protections. What happened to me – being told “I do not rent to your kind” because of my sexual orientation – could have happened in a majority of states.

It happens every single day – and for many LGBTQ people, discrimination is a daily reality. Shortly after being denied the apartment rental, I was fired from my job at a car dealership, leaving me unemployed for months. The owner said he didn’t like me, and when I asked my colleague why, he said it was because I’m gay.

No one should have to endure the humiliation, fear, and loss of income that come from anti-LGBTQ discrimination. It’s time for us all to put our foot down.

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