On Safe Spaces

by J. Kurr

Ph.D. Candidate
Dept. of Communication Arts & Sciences

The ability for LGBTQ folks, including myself, to find solace in a gay bar has its roots in the first amendment guaranteeing the right of the people peaceably to assemble. Following a 1966 “Sip-In” at Julius in New York City, the New York Court of Appeals struck down a New York State Liquor Authority rule that made it illegal to serve gay individuals. Since then, gay clubs have become places of refuge for LGBTQ folks, who have been cast out of their homes, workplaces, and places of worship.

On June 12, 2016, a shooter violated the sanctity of Pulse, a gay club in Orlando, Florida during pride month. The attack shook the LGBTQ community, and made many of us afraid to visit the one place we felt safe. Following the attack, gun-control advocates pushed for laws restricting individuals on the No Fly List from purchasing guns, and gun-right advocates pushed for LGBTQ individuals to arm themselves. Lost in this fallout is a simple truth: LGBTQ folks peaceably assemble in gay clubs to find safety, to create solidarity, and to disarm hate.

The “Sip-In” at Julius: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91993823.

New York court case: http://reason.com/archives/2015/06/28/how-liquor-licenses-sparked-stonewall/1

Gay bars as “places of refuge”: https://www.thenation.com/article/please-dont-stop-the-music/

LGBT fear following Pulse: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/06/14/how-to-talk-to-a-queer-person-who-is-afraid-of-dying/?tid=a_inl

LGBT gun-right advocates: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/the-gun-group-that-wants-to-arm-gay-america-213961

LGBT gun-control: http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/24/health/lgbt-gun-activism/