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Importance of safe spaces for queer people

By Winston Sylvans Friday, May 29, 2020 - 00:33
We hear and say often that human beings are social animals, but do we really understand what it means?

Humans have a need to connect to others and feel like they belong and that’s where community comes into play. Community is a major part of our lives. Whether it is the one we were born into or the ones we find and make as we get older. When you’re in a community with like-minded people, it not only gives you a support system, it helps you thrive and be your best self.

People crave connection - both physical and emotional. Love and belonging are somewhere in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Communities are the source of both of these needs. A community is symbiotic so everyone in it needs everyone else. It not only nurtures its members but creates safe spaces for them.

Safe spaces and community are not mutually exclusive. The introduction of laws that prohibit queer relationships, gatherings, and intercourse introduced almost a decade ago has led civilians and security officers to go on a witch-hunt for members of Nigeria's queer community. To this end, the need for safe spaces in the country has become important.

Safe spaces, whether virtual or physical, give judgment-free, nurturing zones that allow people to feel loved and supported. Technology is more advanced as it has ever been, bringing people together in ways that were unfathomable decades ago. This connection that the internet brings shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Here are some ways to utilise it and find your community:

  • If your sole purpose is to find community, dating apps wouldn’t work. While it is possible to make platonic friends on dating apps, it’s not always the case.
  • Explore your interests. One of the key components of friendships or communities is a shared interest or belief. Exploring these interests would mean interacting with groups of people on social media that are also into that or attending events about it. For example, an exhibition if you’re interested in art, or a show if you’re interested in fashion.
  • Keep an open mind. It’s important to not judge people you’re trying to connect with. Prejudice would defeat the whole purpose of making building a sub-community.
  • Interact with people on social media. Reply that tweet about the show you and a stranger happen to be watching. Comment under the photo of their favourite ice cream flavour. This will help start a conversation.

In the journey to finding safe spaces, remember that community is made up of individuals like you and these communities thrive when we all support and motivate one another.

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