Life is a shit storm.
But if you’re lucky – and I mean really, really lucky, you’ll find shelter. And there, there you’ll have people who’ll love you, accept you for who you are, with all of your flaws and imperfections.
Imagine that: a place that you can call home.
Now think, what if it started to shake? What if the ground beneath you felt like it couldn’t hold, and suddenly all of those people – your friends, your family – look at you and you see it, you see that fear in their eyes, and before you can reach out and say anything: they’re gone.
Life has these moments, these strange, unexpected moments where you’re given a choice: you can either hide away in the shelter, praying that it’ll hold, or face it and build a new one – one that’ll hold even in middle of a storm – of an outbreak of chaos, like the one in Orlando, Florida. On June 12th, 2016, Pulse, a gay nightclub, was on it’s last call for the night, when gun-shots filled the air. That night the LGBT+ community lost 49 of its members. All it took was one man’s ignorance to be fed into a bullet and shot out, into the heart of a community.
Can you hear that? It’s still beating.
With a community so big, comes a heart so strong, still beating to the familiar tune of love, love, love; asking for acceptance, knowing that it can’t bring back the dead, so instead it asks for change. It asks to be heard, because here it is, in the centre of the news, but for how long? How long is it until we move on, focus our attention on something else – what will it be? Will it be a local celebrity, instead of names of those who we’ve lost? Instead we’ll be reading “50 ways to get the most out of your look!”, “how to achieve that summer body” and “a scandalous love affair in the making!”.
And it’s because of this that nothing will change. And that scares me. That scares us, because here we are now, together, all with the same message: to make a difference, to see that this be the moment where we all say “enough is enough”. But, for that to happen we need to remember. We need to hold onto that feeling of wanting to do something – anything, to fight back, and actually do something with it instead of letting the flame inside of you be smothered by your own self-doubt that you can’t make a difference – you can.
To start, understand what it means to have a safe-place. It can mean different things for different people. To me, it’s somewhere that doesn’t feel like the inside of a closet. It’s not having to hide, to feel accepted, and not be afraid to be who I am.
For others, it might be “A place where I don’t have to carefully consider how much of myself to reveal, where I don’t feel anxious about every word that comes out of my mouth”
“A place where I won’t be attacked by on my gender or sexual preferences. A place where people I trust use correct pronouns (or try their hardest to) and don’t pick on me for being me.”
“ A place where I can openly tell people I’m asexual and receive no hate. No sarcastic comments. I’ll explain my sexuality but I am tired of explaining why it’s valid. A safe place to me is a place where they only accept my sexuality and respect my body”
“A place where I know that even if I accidentally talk about sexuality I won’t have to worry about anyone’s reaction”
“A place where I can openly be who I am and not be judged. Somewhere I can be proud to love who I love. And somewhere I know I’m okay”
“A place that I can proudly express who I am, and do so with others, without fear or being judged, harassed or attacked”
“A place where being Ace is actually understood and recognised without the slurs and misconceptions that tend to accompany it”
Simply put, it’s a place where you can be you, unapologetically. And not have to be afraid of the consequences.
Is that really too much to ask?
NB: Special thanks to all those who provided quotes for this piece.