In the fall, SIGBI will be launching its Safe Space Certification to identify entertainment venues, food and beverage locations, stores, businesses and other public venues as Safe Spaces for LGBTQ+ members of the community. The standards and certification process will be designed by the community by some of the most marginalized LGBTQ+ individuals and those in some areas in the country where it is hardest to be LGBTQ+.
Brooklyn Brewery is supporting this process and is eager to be among the first to implement this new standard and be designated as a Stonewall Inn Gives Back Safe Space.
A number of our partners have approached us to ask about #CreateSpace and how they can create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people in their venues. To provide a starting point before the SIGBI Safe Space certification goes live, we’ve created this short guide to walk them through some of the foundational steps towards being a safe space.
We’re always happy to talk about these pointers with potential new partners— drop us a line right here.
Lead by example in your communications, both written and verbal. Respect the language that people use to describe themselves and their work. Offer pronouns and respect others’ pronouns.
Why it matters: Offering pronouns when meeting someone for the first time is increasingly seen as a way to signal to transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people that they are welcome. It normalizes the fact that we don’t know how someone identifies based on what we perceive or assume about their appearance. And it gives people the autonomy to name and describe themselves on their own terms.
Example 1: Do your employees wear name tags? Include pronouns under their names.
Example 2: If you’re contacting someone for the first time, offer your pronouns in your introduction. Include pronouns permanently in your email signature and Zoom/Teams/etc. account.
If you are organizing an event, can you host it in a queer venue; one that is owned and/or run by queer people?
If you are working in more general public spaces, is it safe for queer people, especially queer and trans people of color? Is it accessible to disabled people?
Why it matters: Hosting events at queer venues is a great way of ensuring financial support for LGBTQ+ workers, nonprofit and business owners. They are likely to have thought very carefully about how to create safe space for their queer punters.
Whilst there may never be a total guarantee that any space is totally safe, if you are hosting in a general public venue you need to consider whether they can guarantee that non-LGBTQ+ punters will respect the space and that any displays of homophobia or transphobia will be dealt with swiftly.
If you are hosting an event on LGBTQ+ issues, consider who is doing the organizing and whose voices are being centered – are LGBTQ+ people actually in control of the narrative? Can you hand over the reins to those who have more knowledge and experience than you? Consider where else you can hire queer professionals too.
Why it matters: LGBTQ+ people are so often excluded from mainstream narratives and spaces. They must have spaces created on their own terms without having to conform to the expectations or norms set by the cis or straight majority. Think space by LGBTQ+ people, for LGBTQ+ people.
Example: Where you need to bring in external contractors to work on event production, try to hire queer contractors to work on your events, such as photographers, DJs, chefs, MCs, creatives etc.
If you ask anyone to work on a project or event, make sure you are paying them more than fairly for their time and expertise.
Why it matters: There is a disappointing trend in corporations asking marginalized people to speak at or support their ‘diversity’ initiatives without offering payment, all the while profiting from their labor. Activists in particular are often working hard and long hours with very little resources or support – if you want to benefit from their experience, pay them and pay them well.
Make sure you work with security staff and companies that have experience in or are specifically geared towards LGBTQ+ events.
Why it matters: Security staff are an important line of support for people attending any event, especially where alcohol is involved. Staff need to be attuned to incidents of homophobic or transphobic abuse. It’s also critical that security staff are not themselves homophobic or transphobic! If a queer person experiences harassment and asks security for help, they must be met with respect, dignity and understanding.
Make a clear statement that there will be zero tolerance of harassment at the event – put posters up, have a statement on your website, include it in social media.
Why it matters: Homophobic and transphobic abuse are still a reality for many LGBTQ+ people in public spaces, whether physical or online. By making your policy clear upfront and, most importantly, acting swiftly when someone violates it, you are demonstrating your commitment to ensuring safe space for LGBTQ+ people.
Make the restrooms in your venue or workplace gender neutral.
Why it matters: The public restroom is the site of much anxiety and discomfort for transgender, non-binary and gender nonconforming people, who are often confronted for using the facilities that correspond to their gender identity. In fact, in some places it is illegal for them to do so. By making this small change, you are signaling that TGNC people are welcome in this space.
PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM
If you are taking photographs or filming, ensure you have written consent to use someone’s image.
Why it matters: People attending queer events might not be ‘out’, and their families or friends may not know about their identities. Always think: could publishing their image harm them in any way?
Ready to get started? Use this list to assess your practices and your space, and see where work is needed:
Have you offered your pronouns when introducing yourself?
Are you using the correct pronouns to refer to others?
Is the venue owned and/or run by LGBTQ+ people?
If not, what is the venue doing to ensure the safety of LGBTQ+ people?
Are LGBTQ+ people in control of the narrative?
Are you actively hiring LGBTQ+ contractors and collaborators?
Are you paying people for their time and expertise?
Have you got written consent to use someone’s image?
Are security staff specialist or trained in LGBTQ+ events?
Are the restrooms gender neutral?
Have you made clear your policy on harassment?
Can you confidently describe this as a safe space?
If not, what more do you need to do?