Creating a Safe Space
So today is national coming out day and I’ve been thinking about what I can do as someone who is gay friendly. I don’t have to come out. I’m pretty vocal about my support for the GLBT community and marriage equality.
Stating, once again, that there is nothing wrong with being gay is important but I say it so often, I fear it lacks impact.
So I have an idea.
Most of the people I know are gay friendly but the sad fact remains that a sizeable percentage of people in this country are not. We know that there are a lot of families who would not respond positively to one of their children coming out today. Or ever.
Somewhere today, someone is going to find themselves without a home and without a family.
So here’s what I’ve got to offer: A safe space.
If I know you and you need a safe space, you’ve got one.
While I wish I could throw open my doors to anyone whose current home has become a hostile environment, I don’t have the resources to do that.
What I can do, though, is make a difference to that one kid who needs a week to explore his or her options away from the hostility of a family that believes their sexuality is a choice and that choice can be changed.
What if every gay friendly household did that? What if we all said “my home is a safe space?” What if every kid grappling with questions of sexuality and identity knew that if they decided to come out today, they would have a place to sleep tomorrow?
I’m not talking about opening up our home to strangers. I’m talking about opening our homes up to kids we know. Friends of our own kids who may not live in a home that will be that safe space.
If enough people publicly say “there is a safe space you can go,” it is possible that every one of these kids would have a place they could go. It wouldn’t be a place with strange people. It would be a place with friends. Friends who will advocate for them. Friends who will help them understand that there are thousands of us willing to support them during one of the most difficult times of their lives.
A lot of these kids will come out to their parents and be embraced and accepted and that is fantastic. I’m sure the jitters will still be there. Wouldn’t knowing they have a safe space available if needed be a powerful thing?
Maybe this idea is already out there and I missed it. It doesn’t seem so novel or creative.
But if it isn’t out there already, wouldn’t it be great to figure out a way to ensure that every kid who needed a safe space could find one?
There are all sorts of problems with making this a big thing. Privacy issues. Safety issues. Legal issues.
Maybe it can’t be a big thing. Maybe it will just be a little thing. Little things are still important.
I can make a tiny difference by telling GLBT youth: if you are coming out and you need a safe space, ask me.
If your family rejects you, there are people out there who will not. Learn who they are. You are never alone.