« The Club House | Main | Safe Spaces - Kim Hanlon »

Safe spaces

Places I visit in one day:

My house in a rural/suburban area.
The woods (for a walk)
The University of Minnesota Press
The streets of Minneapolis
My classroom

In keeping a log of the places that I visit during the day, I found that I considered most of them to be very safe. I am lucky enough to live outside of a small town where I am surrounded mostly by fields, trees, and the occasional small, family house. I feel very safe in this area, though I imagine being a gender queer person inside of the town would make me feel differently. I find that the people in my small town are very kind, but with an older, rural population it is likely that some people might hold prejudices against GLBT people. After this, I commute to the cities where I intern at the University of Minnesota press. Being a very liberal and academic setting, I have no doubt that I would feel safe in this space no matter who I was, or what I looked like.

Next I head to class where I walk through the streets of Minneapolis as well as the campus. Urban Minneapolis is probably the most unsafe place that I travel through during a day, but I have never felt unsafe in this space. I imagine my reaction might be different however, if I appeared to be gender queer or otherwise "different." I feel that campus is a relatively safe space to exist in. It still has the occasional mishaps, but as far as urban spaces go, the campus is likely one the safer spaces that one could find.

When I think about all of the places that I visit, I find myself making exceptions for GLBT people, because I feel that these places would likely seem at least less safe for those individuals. When I think about the possibility of being robbed or injured it is primarily because I have something expensive on my person and feel I might be a target because of it, and then only if I am in a less-than-savory neighborhood - never simply because of the way that I am expressing my gender or sexuality.

For GLBT people, I believe that a space is safe when it contains individuals who are educated as well as open minded. Sadly, the number of places of which this is true are relatively few and far between. I believe spaces can become dangerous when it's inhabitants are ignorant and have been indoctrinated against those who are unlike themselves. I don't know that spaces in and of themselves are necessarily safe or unsafe. I believe that a space that breeds ignorance is unsafe and one that promotes inclusiveness and open-mindedness is safe.