Politics isn’t one of my favorite topics. It’s always been one of those divisive conversations that can turn a dinner party upside down after a few too many glasses of wine. I rarely if ever talk politics in an MM romance forum. To me this is a sacred place. A safe space where we celebrate the beauty of love. However, we entered a new era last week. A scary one that threatens freedom and equality, the very premise our nation was founded upon. I’d be concerned no matter what, but as the parent of a gay son, I have an acute sense of worry I haven’t felt since my son was battling bullies in grade school.
We recently had a conversation about “safe spaces” and how the term relates to him as a young gay man living in San Francisco, which is arguably one of the most LGBT-friendly communities in the country. I was fascinated by his definition of the term and asked him to share his perspective. He’s a twenty-two year old recent college graduate who has lived in SF for four years now. These are his words;
“The purpose of a safe space is obviously safety. Safe spaces can be anything from churches to nightclubs to barber shops, but they all operate on rules that protect and consider the audience they cater to. We account for physical violence with law enforcement, but offer few enshrined protections against the shock of getting called “faggot,” or being told to “go back to Mexico”.
I moved to San Francisco for the promise of an entire city as a safe space. A place where I did not have to straighten my spine or dress down my eccentricities to pass as straight the way I did where I grew up. When I finally began to let go of fear, I realized that having to “pass” as a straight man was the opposite of being free. Today I feel safe. Tomorrow I will go to a bar and have a date with a boy. But from time to time, I remember what happened in Orlando and the name of my President and I hear the whole world knocking at my front door. I cherish the ground I stand on now because I know it may vanish from under my feet.”
In the wake of the horror unfolding in the news, I think it’s important to acknowledge that not everyone feels “safe” in their own home or their own country. However, there is a greater community that believes in equal rights and freedom for all. We have a voice. Whether we raise them in rallies or lend our professional services to those in need (like the amazing immigration lawyers who’ve flocked to JFK), we are stronger together. My voice is in my writing. It may seem like a simple thing, but I think now more than ever, we need love stories. We need hope. And we need to believe we can come to a place where the concept of “safe spaces” will seem unnecessary and archaic instead of a reality because we’re free to be who we are without fear. Fear doesn’t win. Love wins.
*There are 28 days in February so I’ll be back at Love Bytes on March 29. Be sure to look for the re-release of Leaning Into Love (with bonus material), my short story in the anthology, It Was Always You, and the next book in the series, Leaning Into the Fall. I’ve also posted new chapters of Matt & Aaron’s short story, Better Than Engagement, on my blog. Check them out! 🙂
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.
Books by Lane Hayes (Dreamspinner Press):
Coming Feb/March 2017: Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall