Safe Spaces

14358723_10210514457441419_5523324845749074658_nPolitics isn’t one of my favorite topics. It’s always been one of those divisive conversations that can turn a dinner party upside down after a few too many glasses of wine. I rarely if ever talk politics in an MM romance forum. To me this is a sacred place. A safe space where we celebrate the beauty of love. However, the US entered a new era last week. A scary one that threatens freedom and equality, the very premise our nation was founded upon. I’d be concerned no matter what, but as the parent of a gay son, I have an acute sense of worry I haven’t felt since my son was battling bullies in grade school.

We recently had a conversation about “safe spaces” and how the term relates to him as a young gay man living in San Francisco, which is arguably one of the most LGBT-friendly communities in the country. I was fascinated by his definition of the term and asked him to share his perspective. He’s a twenty-two year old recent college graduate who has lived in SF for four years now. These are his words;

“The purpose of a safe space is obviously safety. Safe spaces can be anything from churches to nightclubs to barber shops, but they all operate on rules that protect and consider the audience they cater to. We account for physical violence with law enforcement, but offer few enshrined protections against the shock of getting called “faggot,” or being told to “go back to Mexico”. 

I moved to San Francisco for the promise of an entire city as a safe space. A place where I did not have to straighten my spine or dress down my eccentricities to pass as straight the way I did where I grew up. When I finally began to let go of fear, I realized that having to “pass” as a straight man was the opposite of being free. Today I feel safe. Tomorrow I will go to a bar and have a date with a boy. But from time to time, I remember what happened in Orlando and the name of my President and I hear the whole world knocking at my front door. I cherish the ground I stand on now because I know it may vanish from under my feet.”

In the wake of the horror unfolding in the news, I think it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone feels “safe” in their own home or their own country. However, there is a greater community that believes in equal rights and freedom for all. We have a voice. Whether we raise them in rallies or lend our professional services to those in need (like the amazing immigration lawyers who’ve flocked to JFK), we are stronger together. My voice is in my writing. It may seem like a simple thing, but I think now more than ever, we need love stories. We need hope. And we need to believe we can come to a place where the concept of “safe spaces” will seem unnecessary and archaic instead of a reality because we’re free to be who we are without fear. Fear doesn’t win. Love wins.

Lane Hayes

*I will be re-releasing Leaning Into Love (with bonus material) next week! Look for the next book in the series, Leaning Into the Fall in late Feb/March. And yes, I’ll be posting Chapter 6 of Matt & Aaron’s short story, Better Than Engagement, in the next couple days so be sure to check back!unknown

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