The Need for Alcohol-Free Safe Spaces
By, Aaron Keen
Historically, gay bars and clubs have been the epicenter where LGBT citizens have found a sense of community. Having a safe space to exist in is crucial for forming a positive identity. However, there hasn’t been many alcohol-free safe spaces for the LGBT community. Creating a place to find support that isn’t centered around alcohol is key for those desiring a different experience.
In London, the LGBT community may be getting an alcohol-free space to come together. The London LGBT community crowdfunded 100,000 euros to launch an LGBT community center. Michael Segalov, one of the volunteers working on building this space stresses, "There aren't any physical spaces that are open, morning until night, free from alcohol, places that you don't have to spend money to be in." He also emphasizes the importance of having a space where LGBT individuals can come finding support, community and learning from their elders.
For some in the community, bars and clubs can be a difficult place to go. Jessie Thomas, 24-year-old Leicester resident, understands this struggle all too well. She found bars and clubs to be intimidating because of her anxiety and depression. She describes the atmosphere as “overwhelming.” Since joining an LGBT center she says that having an alcohol-free space eased her anxiety and depression.
The Mental Health foundation reports that LGBT people are more likely than straight people to struggle with mental health issues. In fact, The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), the world’s first service for LGBT homeless youth, states a quarter of LGBT youth are homeless. Creating safe spaces are now arguably more important than ever. Segalov claims that, "This will be a place you can come to and turn to, not just in crisis when you need something, but just as a place for cultural, social, communal activities."
Individuals like Jessie show the need for alcohol-free safe spaces and success these spaces have in creating a new sense of community. Everyone needs a place to call home and create meaningful relationships. Having an LGBT center is one way to accomplish this.
Thanks to BBC News for making this article possible!