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Safe Spaces

There are a lot of unsafe spaces in everyday life. In my opinion, any space that does not promote respect for individuality is not a safe space. Also, any place, public and private, can turn unsafe at anytime, like when a person is put in a vulnerable position. I have always taken the freedom to walk into a women’s bathroom without fear for granted. However, I can understand how sexed bathrooms can be a daunting place, especially when one really needs to use it.

This is the way I look at it: A place is as safe as I allow it to be (unless my life is in danger, of course). I can step into the most conservative anti-gay place and still feel safe if I don’t allow other people’s opinions make me feel bad. Safe spaces come in both a physical form of a safe place AND how mentally safe you feel. If you put yourself in safe places AND mentally tell yourself that everything will be ok, chances are, the place will become safe to you.

These are the places I have been in the last few days:
- My home
- My girlfriend’s family’s place
- The U of MN campus
- Queer Student Cultural Center at the U
- My old high school

I generally feel safe at home. My family is accepting of me, for which I am very fortunate.

I went to my girlfriend’s family’s place for Thanksgiving. We were surprisingly greeted with opened-arms, despite how closed minded some of the people were there. Even though I knew there were people there glancing at us (because of our sexuality), I never felt unsafe. Sometimes it felt like the space was safer for me and my girlfriend than for the people who were looking at us. I don’t really know why – maybe it’s because she and I don’t let people’s opinions bother us… and on the contrary, the other people are afraid of our ‘lifestyle’ and our opinions.

The U of MN campus: Feeling accepted and safe was one of the main reasons I picked this university. I feel safe enough on campus that I can be an out-Asian-tomboy-lesbian on campus. I spend a lot of my time on campus at the QSCC (Queer Student Cultural Center). This space is probably the safest place I can go, not because this place accepts my sexuality, but the people here accept everyone overall.

My old high school: I went to a small charter school in Northfield, MN. I felt safe there generally but unfortunately they do not have a GSA or GLBT group for youth there. I think that the young people need a safe place to go to because as a teen coming out, I sometimes wish I had a home away from home to be myself.

Everyone needs a safe place to go to, public and private, for any reason. This would make for a happier world, I believe, if everyone had some where to go.

Alyssa Sison