The Importance of Non-Alcoholic LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces
NOTE: As someone who identifies as queer and nonbinary, I often use the term “queer” to describe the whole LGBTQ+ community, as do many people I know. This is because it is better fitting than “gay”, as gay most accurately refers to homosexual males. I recognize that this is a debated choice, and I apologize if it offends anyone.
Today’s post is not dedicated to one person, but rather the 49 LGBTQ+ individuals who lost their lives in the horrendous attack on Pulse, a queer nightclub, just over 5 years ago. Many of these folks were Latinx, a fact that some media leaves out. We have and will continue to mourn this tremendous loss, and it is still a reminder of just how important LGBTQ+ safe spaces are.
As we all know by now, being queer easy. That’s why having queer safe spaces is so important, because it gives queer people a place to go when they don’t feel safe, need support, or just want to have fun.
But why are so many of these places alcoholic, or otherwise exclusionary to many people? Whether you’re too young to drink, like to abstain from alcohol, or simply want a more relaxed atmosphere, finding a non-alcoholic safe space for queer people can be hard.
So today, let’s talk about the importance of these types of safe spaces, as well as some ideas for what they might look like.
Alcoholic LGBTQ+ safe spaces aren’t necessarily bad— they’re still a safe space, and for many they are a fantastic resource. But they also exclude a large portion of the community, whether intentionally or not.
Alcohol isn’t the only way to make a safe space exclusive, either. Some examples include spaces which:
Revolve around alcohol (bars, some clubs)
Revolve around drugs
Focus mainly on sex/sensuality (bars, clubs, some parties)
Carry an expectation of spending money
Don’t include, or outright exclude, trans people
All of these spaces can be wonderful places to be. But creating spaces without these expectations, where queer people are free to simply exist and have fun, would be very helpful.
This would give queer youth more safe spaces. It would also let people who are more socially anxious have places they can go, because bars and clubs can be intimidating.
And wanting a non-alcoholic safe space doesn’t mean you hate alcohol. As this article— which has some great examples of inclusive LGBTQ+ safe spaces— puts it:
“You don’t have to be sober to want sober spaces.”
So how do we create these spaces? What are examples of spaces that would be inclusive to many more queer people? Let’s take a look.
Examples of LGBTQ+ safe spaces
There are many ways we can create spaces that don’t center on alcohol, drugs, or sex; don’t carry an expectation of spending money; and are inclusive of trans or GNC folks. This will mean a lot more people have safe spaces they can go to when they need help.
Cafes are perhaps one of the best ways to create non-alcoholic queer safe spaces. Often, they might carry the expectation of spending money, but they don’t have to— and when they do, they’re usually cheaper than bars.
A queer cafe is a place where people of all ages are free to just hang out, talk, and maybe enjoy some coffee. It’s a great alternative to the loud spaces of bars.
Libraries are one of the few places in our world where people can be without any expectation of spending money. Because of this, they’re a great resource for people wanting to make LGBTQ+ safe spaces.
A whole library doesn’t have to be dedicated to queer people— although it could. But having a library group or reading group for queer people could be a great resource.
Safe spaces don’t have to be support groups— but they can be, and support groups can help queer people of all ages.
The nice thing about support groups is that they can be hosted nearly anywhere. And, because of their nature, they are designed to be more inclusive, relaxed, and open to all types of queer people. Having support groups available might help a lot of queer people, and bring them together with others they relate to.
I know, I know: “aren’t churches places queer people try to avoid?” And yes, many churches and religious organizations are queer-exclusive.
But things are changing, and there are many organizations not following that. For a year, I went to a queer support group that met in a church.
Many interfaith churches might have environments that are open to queer people. And some other churches can, too— even Catholic ones. There are religious queer people out there, so why not provide safe spaces that meet all of their needs?
Sports are another area where queer people tend to get left out, especially trans and GNC individuals. But a lot of queer people like to play sports, so we should create spaces that they feel comfortable in.
It could be especially helpful to create safe spaces for trans people within sports. Playing on gendered teams, which are often heavily cisnormative, can be alienating.
These groups could be intramural, recreational, or even highly competitive! Having a group that is dedicated to be for queer people could help a lot of queer, trans, and GNC athletes feel more accepted.
Many, many options
The things I’ve listed are just a few of the many ways we can create more inclusive, non-alcoholic LGBTQ+ safe spaces. The reality is, you could create a safe space almost anywhere you want. Your school, bookstores, bakeries, at work, even from your home.
The key point is that LGBTQ+ safe spaces are important, and it’s even more important that they are inclusive as possible. So sure, keep the queer bars and clubs— they’re valuable. But hopefully, we will also continue to see a rise in queer safe spaces that are open to more people. The more spaces we have, the more people we can help.
Do you have other ideas for LGBTQ+ safe spaces? Want to ask us a question? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know by leaving a comment below, or tagging us on social media (@llctherapeutic on Twitter and Facebook, and @therapeutichealingjourney on Instagram).