I recently rewrote an older blog post about LGBTQ visibility that I had written shortly after seeing the film Vito. While I talked about things like "Don't say 'gay'" laws and violence against the queer community, I had some additional thoughts I wanted to share. In this episode, I took some time to share these thoughts and the importance of queer safe spaces.

The goal of the right is queer erasure

These laws and the recent increase in violence against LGBTQ people is about creating queer erasure. The goal isn't to get rid of queer people, but to make them so afraid that they go back into the closet. The goal here is to make queer people invisible, which makes it easier for them to pretend that we don't exist. 

We've always been here

Of course, trying to erase queer visibility is never going to work. It's obvious that these people don't understand history. We've been here forever. In ancient Sumaria, one of the first recorded human civilizations, the goddess Inanna was served by a priesthood of gender variant men (one of the main reasons I named my business Priest of Inanna!). This priesthood dressed in women's clothing and served as sacred prostitutes in the temples of Inanna. In the myth of Inanna's descent to the underworld, the god, Enki, created two beings to go into the underworld and bring Inanna back. The myth says that they were "neither male, nor female". Many scholars of Sumerian culture agree that this doesn't refer to hermaphrodites but to gender variant people. The first gender outlaws!

Vanishing queer safe spaces

Of course, knowing that we've always been here and feeling defiant about being out and proud doesn't help make us feel safer. We've always felt a certain safety in numbers which led to the creation of queer safe spaces like bars and cafes. 

Recently, we've seen these queer safe spaces targeted by terrorists committing horrific acts of violence, started with the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. This is obviously an attempt at queer erasure through terrorism and fear.

But the truth is, many of these queer safe spaces were disappearing or evolving for years before they became targets for violent acts. More queer people choosing sobriety and the increasing usage of internet apps had led to the gay bar no longer being the primary queer safe space. 

But in many ways, we haven't found new queer safe spaces to take their place. While internet apps provide a tool for meeting other queer people it is often with the intention of hooking up. And internet apps don't create physical spaces where people feel safe and fear to be their most authentic queer selves. 

And that's important because while being queer is more generally accepted, there still are not guarantees around safety. And for queer people who live in more conservative parts of the country, it can be extremely unsafe. When I co-facilitated Between the Worlds, with Michael Llyod, the festival was a space in which attendees could feel free to hold hands, kiss and be truly themselves. We need more of these queer safe spaces.

How community creates queer safe spaces

An important element of queer safe space is community. When queer people gather together without judgment or division, they create queer safe spaces through numbers and through common lived experience. When I came out in the late 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, we created queer safe space in various ways. We'd attend movies together in a group, have dinner at each other's homes, go out shopping in the trendy neighborhoods. There was an element of safety in our numbers and in the randomness of where we might be. 

But a more important element was that we knew that the group had our backs. We looked out for one another. We provided shoulders to cry on, celebrated with each other and shared our deepest wishes and secrets with one another. A big reason we were able to do that, is that we weren't busy policing who was too old, too large, too fem, or to flamboyant.

In many ways, trying to pass in the mainstream and hook up culture has created more division and judgement in our community. When we divide ourselves in this way, we make everyone less safe. The first step in creating new queer safe spaces has to be strengthening our sense of community and kinship. I believe that strengthening that sense of community and kinship starts with letting go of our expectations, blame, fears, and judgments toward each other. This is the main reason I created the Sacred Kinship programs. 

How coming out helps create queer safe spaces

Obviously, if the goal of attacks on the LGBTQ community is about erasing queer visibility, coming out is going to be hugely important. When you're out, you make it safe for other queer people to be out. In my career as an engineer, I made it a point to be out at work because by doing so, it was safe for other people that worked at the same company to be out. If you're not out, you're invisible. That's exactly what the conservative right wants.

Coming out can be scary. And it can feel like you'll be exposed to more danger once you're out. The key is to find your people. Find other queer people and community so that together you can carve out queer safe spaces. 

But I also want to stress that coming out is a personal decision that each person needs to make in their own time. If you're struggling with the coming out process, I may be able to help. 

It's obvious that we need to think about queer safe spaces and how to create and define them. For me, it begins with how we come together as a community. We can choose to continue to focus on transactional relationships with one another (hooking up) or we can put aside the judgements and attitudes that divide us. We can decide to really see and hear one another. And when we embrace our kinship with each other, we'll create queer safe spaces wherever we are and wherever we go. 

Episode summary

There has been an increase in violence and fear tactics used against the queer community in an attempt to make us invisible. Which is why it’s more important than ever that we unite our community and create safe spaces. Today on Queer Spirituality I’m talking about ways that we can rebuild these safe spaces, and celebrate all facets of the LGBTQ+ community, because when we embrace the most authentic expression of ourselves we can feel safe to be seen and heard for exactly who we are.

Did this episode inspire you? I’d love to hear your thoughts ❤️ drop me a review on your favorite listening platform.

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About the Author, Julian Crosson-Hill

Julian Crosson-Hill, ACC is an ICF certified spiritual life coach and human design specialist. He coaches gay and bisexual men in living a life of purpose, meaning, and connection.

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