Disclaimer – I am, by no means, trying to shame those who enjoy going to queer-friendly clubs! In fact, alcohol within reason can lead to further enjoyment, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be more LGBTQ+ friendly social spaces that don’t center around the nighttime. Also, in the UK at least, 18 is the age where someone becomes an adult.
Having a safe space is important – especially if you are in a minority group. But I wanted to write about why safe spaces are crucial for LGBTQ+ people – especially if you are a young person under the age of 18.* This is because all to option, queer spaces for adults tend to be centered around alcohol and clubbing – and though this is all well and good, it is also crucial to remember that there may be queer people who don’t drink (like me), elderly LGBTQ+ people, etc. This then, unfortunately, adds to another problem that LGBTQ+ people may face – increased loneliness which may be because many queer spaces are centered around nightlife.
Firstly, not everyone enjoys it – for someone like me, clubbing and alcohol aren’t really my thing, so having a safe space like Freedom Youth is crucial for me because they allow me to be in a queer-friendly, non-alcoholic space where I can still be myself. It also means that I can socialize with other LGBTQ+ young people in a safe space, without the presence of alcohol. Besides, allowing people to socialize with other people without the presence of alcohol means that everyone there will have a good time.
Besides, I feel as though social media can help with this. Sites have a messaging system people can talk to each other – I’m a part of a few groups, and by talking to other queer people has definitely improved my social life – and the same goes for Freedom Youth. It also means that you get to stay in the comfort of your own home, and for some, this can be a very safe space.
Secondly, it’ll allow fewer people to meet new people. By possibly going to places where there is the chance of there being no alcohol or loud music, it’ll allow individuals to meet and actually get to know other people – because you never know, you might find another person who shares similar interests. You might even find someone with a shared experience, which is great because it’ll mean that you feel less isolated, and you might even learn something.
So here are some ideas for non-alcohol safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people:
- Queer friendly cafes
- Queer friendly bookstores (bonus; with LGBTQ+ books of all genres!)
- Queer friendly film, book, TV clubs and general social spaces. – also, I’m aware that these will take a lot of time & money, but it is nice to think about what type of places we could have. I’m also aware that these places will have to be accessible for queer/trans people who are disabled / are neurodivergent (or both).