A silent plague is sweeping our nation. From the lofts of Brooklyn to the houses of Indiana, a creeping occupation is taking place. They are your lovers, boyfriends, girlfriends, and “it’s complicateds.” They are sex gypsies, and they are not getting off your couch until they’ve drunk the last drop of your milk right out of the carton.
Not to be confused with the gold digger or the kept man/woman/boy/girl, the sex gypsy’s goals are modest: to have a place to crash, generally in a big city, which he or she doesn’t have to pay for. But don’t mistake him for an invited guest, either; whether due to shame, cowardice, or premeditated deviousness, the sex gypsy by definition must never have a frank talk with the person whose space they are occupying, or “raping,” as Lena Dunham might say. (Note: I realize the term “sex gypsy” may be offensive to the Roma people and I welcome suggestions for an alternate.)
It’s hard to pinpoint where the term originated, as I’ve heard many of my acquaintances use it. Some track it to the now-defunct local message board “Williamsboard” (which witnessed several verifiable sex gypsyings among its members), others to Oberlin college (which would explain Ms. Dunham’s familiarity with the concept re: the Rayshanna storyline on Girls). But no matter what you call it, it is a real phenomenon experienced by many, “many” being an arbitrary number extrapolated from the handful of friends and acquaintances of mine who like to say this word.
The most common type of sex gypsy is someone who moves into another person’s house shortly after beginning to sleep with them. This could be inadvertent or intentional, but it’s always done in a casual and unspoken fashion. As with Ray and Shoshanna, there may be genuine affection on both ends of the relationship. Their reason for homelessness could range from unemployment to travel to drug/alcohol addiction, but it’s not uncommon for a sex gypsy to have a job and/or car (which can double as a backup crash pad). To maintain the “popularity” necessary to obtain such arrangements, most update their social media accounts frequently via expensive mobile devices.
“Instead of crashing on friends’ floors, I just kind of naturally started spending most nights over her house,” says one former sex gypsy of his former lover. “I had a job waiting tables, but I would quietly spend most of that money on various illicit substances.” He describes himself as having been “not like street person homeless, but like, I got kicked out of my apartment and I was crashing on couches and occasionally sleeping on the L train homeless.” All was fine and dandy for a while, and she didn’t seem to mind having him there. But eventually, it took a toll on his psyche, making him feel “vaguely guilt ridden and ‘unmanly’ in a totally bourgeois and heteronormative way.” So he moved out.
Another, less ambiguous type of sex gypsy might set his sights on shorter term goals. “I remember referring to [redacted] as a sex gypsy because he would go home with any girl who’d have him because he was functionally homeless,” another source tells me. A telltale sign of most sex gypsies? A bag large enough to hold several days’ worth of clothes.
Interestingly enough, the vast majority of sex gypsies I’ve encountered are men. This could be because women are conditioned to be more accommodating of house guests, or maybe because similarly inclined women are able to go after more lucrative “sugar daddy” arrangements. It could be because young women have been taught by feminism that they need to be independent from the men they are fucking, unless said fucking is explicitly their job. One might also see it as an extension of the lax, male-favoring dating culture that currently exists in places like Williamsburg. Or it could simply be that the homeless look is totally in for dudes right now.
Of course, this phenomenon isn’t really new, but due to totally unscientific criteria I just made up, it’s been greatly exacerbated by the recent economic downturn, the end of courtship, and the demise of masculinity at large. Also, the male jegging.
How should we feel about these parasitic hangers-on? Certainly, they don’t deserve the same empathy as actual homeless people, as their (generally) middle class backgrounds and cultural capital guarantee they will never have to sleep on the streets. One gets the sense that many of them could get their own places if they had to (and/or move back in with their parents), but why would they when an accommodating person has afforded them a dwelling that is, to quote a second former sex gypsy, “free as hell”? Then again, many hosts seem to enjoy their comely, most likely bearded friends’ company enough to turn a blind eye to their lack of communication regarding the question “do you like, live with me?” So maybe this is not a parasitic relationship at all, but one of mutualism.
Are you harboring a sex gypsy in your home? Or worse yet, are you a sex gypsy? It might not be easy to look in the mirror and answer this question, but honesty is the first step on the path to the road to the way forward to personal enlightenment.