The Gayly Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Vol. 12, No. 11, Ed. 1 Wednesday, June 1, 1994 Page: 4 of 24
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*=Ay Page 4 ▼ The GAYLY ▼ June 1. 94
Focus Orv: TRAVEL
HOMO HOME EXCHANGE: LOTS OF SAVINGS, FEW RISKS
As a concept, organized home exchange
has existed for forty years. The process is
simple: You trade houses with someone who
lives in a place you'd like to visit and who in
turn wants to visit your city; while you're in
his or her house, he or she is in your house.
The benefits are obvious: although all ex-
change clubs charge a fee to join, once that's
paid, your lodging is free. As is the case with
staying in any house or apartment, meal
costs can be reduced since you're not depen-
dent on restaurants. And if you also ex-
change cais. which many participants do,
auto rental fees are eliminated as well. A final
advantage is more debatable: by having
someone stay in your home, it's less likely to
be robbed, and you needn't hire a house /pet
sitter or plant waterer. Of course, that as-
sumes your exchangee is totally responsible
and honest. The exchange clubs insist that
almost without exception people are indeed
reliable, but more on that later.
Gay home exchange is a more recent
concept, and while it confers the same ben-
efits as the straight version, additional ad-
vantages make it an even better deal: above
all. you don’t need to hide your lifestyle (the
erotic art. the gay or lesbian titles on your
bookshelf) when you trade houses. And your
host can tell you all about the gav or lesbian
hot spots before you arrive.
Two gay/lesbian home exchange organi-
zations currently vie for your business. Cali-
tornia-based mi casa su casa and London-
based Club EX Network. Club EX has a
Washington telephone (1 -800-787-0010) but
it seems to be just an answering machine on
which you can request information.
How It Works
To begin, fill in a membership form,
saying when and where you’d like to go and
detailing the particulars of your home, which
will be listed in a directory. With mi casa su
casa, if you're interested in exchanging your
home with one found in the directory you
mail or fax an exchange form, which is then
forwarded to the owner of the house that
Names, addresses and phone numbers
are not published in the directory, so don’t
call owners yourself. Club EX is slightly
different. “Full" members receive a home
directory plus a separate “index" with names.
addresses and phones, and thus can make
“Associate" members get the directory
but not the index — “full" members can
contact “associate" members, but not vice
versa. Once enrolled, pick five or so members
whose homes and cities look appealing, and
make your interest known (it's best not to
choose just one or two homes, since there's
no way of telling if your request will be
accepted). The members will then contact
you directly. You may also receive inquiries
about your home from other members, which
you can accept or refuse.
mi casa's David Marcus offers these
tips for a successful home exchange:
1) Write a detailed letter of agreement
between the two parties, including dates of
arrival and departure, number of people in
each party, whether visits will overlap so that
you can meet each other, transportation ar-
rangements to/from airports, how to exchange
keys, names and numbers of friends and
neighbors, and other essentials. The helpful
mi casa su casa membership kit includes
several sample letters.
2) Make sure your house is clean. It
might be a good idea to hire a professional
Henning service if tidiness is not your forte.
3) Make sure you're insured, and put
any priceless or expensive items in a safe
place — with a neighbor or in the safe deposit
4) Provide an “info" kit listing emer-
gency numbers; written directions on how to
use the washer/dryer, alarm, and TV; loca-
tion of fuse box; restaurant and entertain-
ment recommendations; and so on.
What’s Out There
What kind of selection will you have? As
explained below, we weren’t able to get a copy
of the Club EX house listings, but we did
obtain a ml casa directory. Not surprisingly,
there are lots of listings in places like San
Francisco. Amsterdam, and New York, and
fewer in Seattle. Dallas and Baltimore (one
each). But many of the places looked tempt-
ing: like the very private Provincetown three-
story, two-bedroom house with panoramic
views of the harbor, or the canal-front Pari-
sian flat owned by a flight attendant and
government employee couple, ml casa lists
approximately 1 40 choices in its fall 1993
catalogue. A spring 1993 directory should be
available by the time you read this.
Hospitality vs. Home Exchange
Both gay clubs offer home exchange and
hospitality exchange. The latter option means
that you stay in your home while a guest
comes to visit: at a later date, you return the
favor. Marcus suggests that members limit
hospitality exchanges to two or three days,
and stay somewhere else if the trip last
longer. This confines the damage if it turns
out host and guest are incompatible. An-
other idea is to arrange two or three consecu-
tive hospitality exchanges in the same city.
The most obvious snag you might hit is
that the person you're exchanging with didn’t
describe his house or apartment accurately.
The other potential problem, hinted at above,
is that your guest might trash your home.
The gay home exchange clubs, and their
straight counterparts, emphasize the impor-
tance of honesty and accuracy when describ-
ing a home. And although the incidence of
! theft or damage is exceedingly rare, it is a
possibility and you should make sure your
insurance policy covers any eventuality.
mi casa su casa: A one year member-
ship costs $98, $50 for a second year; check
or international money order only. There is
no charge to include a photo of your home.
The Member journal, which includes photos
of listed homes, is available in some gay/
lesbian bookstores. It does not contain names
and addresses. To order a copy of the Journal,
send $8.95 to the mi casa su casa address.
Club EX: $70 for a full membership or
$48 for an associate. Check, International
money order, MasterCard and Visa accepted.
Which To Choose?
We found mi casa su casa to be far
j more responsive to our inquiries than Club
EX. Perhaps that's because we re based in
the United States and Club EX is in England,
and the reverse would be true if we were UK-
based. In any event, we were unable to reach
anything but an answering machine at either
the London or Washington. D.C. numbers,
and while mi casa su casa provided us with
membership listings. Club EX did not.
For More Information:
mi casa su casa. P.O. Box 10327,
Oakland, CA 94610; 1-800-2 15-CASA.
(510) 268-8534, fax (510) 268-0299.
Club EX Network. P.O. Box 101,
London SW12, England, tel. 01 1-44-81-
6756195. Washington. D.C. tel. 1-800-
Reprinted with permission from Out &
About magazine. Out & About subscription
information: One year (10 issues), $49: two
years (20 issues). $89. Send check or money
order to: Out &. About, Inc., 542 Chapel St..
New Haven. CT 06511-9789. For more infor-
mation. call 1-800-929-2268.
■■■/■ . \ :
LEGALIZE YOUR LIFE STYLE
Unlike many Americans, gay men and lesbians do not receive automatic legal
protection in several important areas. However, just like any other citizen, gay
men and lesbians can take advantage of the law to secure or approximate
those legal rights.
//■,-■■-...................-----....... ' "........■ k dM
Donald G. Hanks
Attorney at Law
Adoption of Adults and Children
Change of Name
Criminal/DUI & DWI
Discrimination & Hate Crimes
Domestic Relations/Family Law
Living Together Contracts
Real Estate & Property Law
Powers of Attorney - Medical and Financial
Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning
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Shaffer, Ron & Hawkins, Don. The Gayly Oklahoman (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Vol. 12, No. 11, Ed. 1 Wednesday, June 1, 1994, newspaper, June 1, 1994; Oklahoma City, Okla.. (gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc825199/m1/4/: accessed November 15, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.