A few weeks ago, two of my friends (both of whom are straight) were on their way to a local gay club, where some guys were waiting outside to target LGBT+ people.

They decided it would be a good idea to try and rough them up a bit. Thankfully neither of them were hurt, but one of my friends lost his glasses and they were both pretty shaken up about the whole thing. It’s safe to say they didn’t end up in that club that night and they’re wary about going back again.

This was a shocking experience for me to hear about; up until this point, me and my friends have never really had negative (especially not violent) treatment due to our gender, sexuality, or where we were deciding to club. I just took it as a given that these things didn’t really happen anymore where I live, and you’d have to be very unlucky if they did. But these men targeted my friends just on the assumption they were gay,. It really highlighted to me just how important safe spaces are and ensuring that they are protected. I’ve been taking them for granted and I’m not about to do that anymore.

I remember the first time I went to a gay club; I was 17, some guy came up to me and my friend and asked why two straight girls were there. A great start. Once we made it clear we weren’t straight, he decided to “look after” me all night while my friend made out with his friend. It wasn’t the best night out I’ve ever had but it was the first time I’d been in a space where girls could kiss each other and no one was gawking or perving, where there were drag queens selling drinks and plenty of people who definitely didn’t conform to gender norms. I’d been exposed to all of these things in snippets in real life and in online communities, but nothing compared to this. I was so happy, and I felt a sense of calm and belonging there, despite the fact I was lumbered with some weirdly protective gay guy while my friend made out with someone all night.

Safe spaces don’t harm people who aren’t
part of a community or minority,
they make the world an easier place to live
for those who are part of marginalised groups,
even if just for a few hours at a time.

 

Since then I’ve only had a few safe space experiences. One of which was Pride Cymru, it was like my first gay club experience but a whole lot bigger and better. I had a great time at Fan Club Nottingham, which I talked about in issue 4 for being full of girls, glitter, cake and awesome music. The Louise Rider Cup Roller Derby was an impressive array of the most colourful leggings and hair combinations I’ve ever seen. All of these experiences were pretty magical, they lived up to their name of feeling safe and inclusive and were nothing short of a good time.

I hear people metaphorically shit on safe spaces a lot, claiming that they’re trying to exclude straight people, cis people and men from things when in fact they’re always the most inclusive places I’ve been. Although that over protective guy assumed we were straight, he didn’t have a problem with two straight people being in a gay club. Some people like to talk about how women, people of colour, LGBT+ people, and other marginalised groups, already have all their rights, that safe spaces shouldn’t be there to wrap us up in cotton wool and tell us we’re amazing, that we should just buckle up and live in the real world. But the “real world” is a scary place to be sometimes, especially as a part of a marginalised group.

Violence against us can and does happen, as well as a lot of verbal abuse, which I’m sure most of us have faced at some point. Nothing can compare to the feeling of ease, acceptance, and community that I feel when I’m at a safe space gig or out at my favourite gay club. There’s no group of guys surrounding and cheering if I’m kissing a girl, people will stand up for me if someone has the nerve to try and harass me and people aren’t going to be sneering about a guy wearing a skirt. I can be unapologetically myself and if anyone tries to take issue with that then I know I’m in a safe place to speak up.

Of course no safe space is perfect, the number of times I’ve been groped by gay men in clubs because “it’s non sexual”, and therefore “totally fine”, is ridiculous. Bad things do happen in safe spaces, they’re not benevolent places, they can’t be, but I am not going to let anyone take my safe spaces away any time soon, in fact I’m all for building many more! Have queer coffee mornings, trans clothes swaps, inclusive days out for people with disabilities – bring safe spaces out of the club scene and make them inclusive of those who are too young or don’t like nights out.

Safe spaces don’t harm people who aren’t part of a community or minority, they make the world an easier place to live for those who are part of marginalised groups, even if just for a few hours at a time.

I will be going back to that club, not just because I like a good gay night out, but also because I don’t want anyone to think that they can take my space away through intimidation and violence. A few thugs aren’t going to ruin a space where I feel amazingly myself.

Protect local safe spaces, even if they weren’t made specifically for you, they will be incredibly important to someone in your community and I guarantee you will always be made to feel welcome.

_

Photography: Izzy McLeod Post-processing: Rae Tilly

Love LFB Blogazine? Then help keep us alive! Support us on Patreon.

Tags: ,

Izzy McLeod

Hey I'm Izzy, an Ethical Fashion, conscious travel, general life blogger, and Astrophysics student from the UK. I love exploring new places with my camera in hand, eating all the vegan food I can find and I'm always at home by the sea.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  • this post is just… i don’t even have the word for it. i just really, really love this post. i love the meanings behind it, i love the words you say (or in this case, type) and i loooove how you remind us that safe spaces can also be dangerous. danger is inevitable. i personally think danger is a natural course in life and it’s the reason why we have fear as our natural responses (or for some people, it’s courage.) and you’re totally right about safe spaces being an easier place to live even if it’s just for a few minutes or hours. safety is a difficult experience imo, especially when we are out and about and not in our “most secured place” aka our house or room. but even then, there’s no denying that danger is not impossible to happen inside a house.

    Some people like to talk about how women, people of colour, LGBT+ people, and other marginalised groups, already have all their rights, that safe spaces shouldn’t be there to wrap us up in cotton wool and tell us we’re amazing, that we should just buckle up and live in the real world. But the “real world” is a scary place to be sometimes, especially as a part of a marginalised group. – this part is really ridiculous. i can’t believe some people actually think this way. while i’m straight myself, i completely disagree with that kind of mindset. i think there’s still a lot to be done so marginalised groups can feel safe in the “real world” and what the world has achieved right now feels like it’s only the tip of an iceberg.

    • Ah thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment I’m so glad you liked my post! And yes danger is a natural part of life of course, being in difficult situations help us to learn and grow but it’s definitely not a good thing to be constantly in danger, it’s important to have places that are /feel slightly more safe (even if they’re not completely safe).

      And yeah it is ridiculous! But some people don’t really recognise their privilege as part of a non-marginalised group, they find living in the “real world” completely easy and safe and so everyone else should too! It’s nice for them as they’ve never experienced feeling unsafe in everyday situations, but I think you’re right it’s the tip of the iceberg but it’s something and things are thankfully improving :) Thank you again for your lovely comment!

  • I get a headache every time someone accuses safe spaces for minorities excluding the majority; some people always make it about themselves…

  • Sophie Lee

    Wow, this post really has an interesting point of view

    xoxo, All about trendy hats