One of the struggles of being on the LGBT+ spectrum is finding spaces catered specifically towards LGBT+ folks, that aren’t noisy nightclubs and boozy bars. This is an issue whether you live in a small town or a big city; small towns often have zero LGBT safe spaces, while the biggest city nearby might only have gay bars that are unsuitable for underage or sober people (or people who don’t simply identify as gay).
If you too have faced this dilemma, keep reading for suggestions on how to find (or start) substance-free LGBT+ safe spaces in your area.
1. Start a Club
Even if there aren’t any LGBT-centered spaces in your area, there are definitely LGBT people. Those people are probably just as interested as you are in having a safe space specifically for them! Start an LGBT-focused book club, or film review club, or any other LGBT-centric club of your liking, and meet up at the library or local coffee shops.
You can advertise the club in the same spots you meet, or on social media for a wider reach. Once word gets out about your club, more LGBT people will be inclined to join, and you’ll meet even more allies and friends.
2. Find a Community Center
I was absolutely thrilled when I found this website. Centerlink allows you to enter your zip code in order to find the nearest LGBT community center in your area, out of the 164 Centerlink community centers worldwide. I realize that when you look at the whole world, that’s not really a whole lot of centers.
However, Centerlink only shows LGBT organizations run by Centerlink itself. That means that plenty of other cities also have LGBT centers, they’re just not members of Centerlink. By simply googling the names of towns near me, plus LGBT, I found far more centers than I was able to find solely on the Centerlink website.
3. Take LGBT Classes
Many colleges, community and otherwise, now offer courses on LGBT history, rights, and culture. Not only are these classes a great way for you to learn more about gender and sexuality, they can also be a great place for meeting other LGBT students and professors!
Even if there aren’t many LGBT people in the class, at least you’ll know that everyone else there is a good ally, and that they too want to be educated on LGBT rights.
4. Look For LGBT Speakers
Read your local newspaper, and be on the lookout for LGBT speakers or performers coming to your area. Often events like these are held for little to no cost, and you’ll probably encounter other LGBT people in the audience, or allies of LGBT people.
If none of these options seem to work for you, try to remember that you are not the only LGBT person in your area, even if it may seem like it. If you need a little extra reassurance, just look at this study: apparently, roughly nine million Americans identify as LGBT. And even that number is a conservative estimate because the study itself is a couple of years old and doesn’t account for the number of LGBT people who are not publicly out.
I promise there is an LGBT safe space somewhere for you, and hopefully this article will help you find one. If you have already had luck finding LGBT spaces in your area, please share what they are and how you found them below!
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.