Note: Throughout this brief essay, which I took from my journal which sort of outlines quick thoughts of mine regarding the day, I will be using the term queer to reference the LGBTQA community and the individuals within it. Personally, the term queer embodies all the many facets that embody the LGBTQA community that the acronym doesn't touch on (such as gender-queer individuals). When this current second semester came to an end, so did my semester worth of research. I had explored what I called 'retained sacredness' in religious objects within the secular space that is the modern art museum. But while that came to an end, it did not mean that my mind stopped considering other projects. And the most recent has been the thought of 'queer space'. This thought is brand new, so I haven't explored it thoroughly within literature. But after recent events, I feel that I have come to develop some conception of what queer space is.
Orlando and Queer Spaces
The horror that was the Orlando shooting in Pulse Nightclub occurred on Sunday, June 12 2016. Today, Thursday, June 16 2016, I made my way to the makeshift shrine located in Chicago's Boystown to pay my respects. With a small bouquet of flowers in hand and tears on the brims of the eyelids, I approached the shrine that is on the corner of North Hasted and Roscoe. Upon getting to the shrine, I noticed a woman was lighting the vigil candles that had been placed there beginning on Sunday. I began to assist her and we discussed the impact of the shooting. She had made the comment that one would think that a bar would be a safe space, and that set my mind going into the realm of queer spaces.
Queer space is an area designated for individuals that identify as queer, slightly obvious, but it is more than that; it is a place where the notion of safety is. It was, and still is, an area in which a large congregation of queer individuals meet. It can be a formal meeting, such as a possible Queer Advocacy group, or the term congregation can be applied to the bumping dance floors that are within gay clubs. In each case, it is a large gathering of queer individuals and within these large numbers, safety and comfort is abound. In these spaces, individuals are not shamed for who they are; there is a shared understanding of everyone and their sexual/gender identity. It is understood that a majority of individuals that inhabit a queer space are they themselves queer, so to judge another queer individual for their sexuality or their gender identity would be redundant of what bigots do to the queer community. But after the shooting occurred, I began to question whether or not the queer bar scene lost its shroud of safety.
A man at the shrine was describing how this event altered how he perceived gay bars; where once he felt at home, now he feels on edge in them. The once notorious queer space has been attacked and invaded. But this does not mean that the queer space is eradicated or that queer individuals will not stop building areas of safety. I feel that the recent events have encouraged the buildup of more queer spaces within the United Staes and abroad. The event, while tragic in numerous ways, strengthened the community. It made an understanding that, while there is progress in certain areas regarding the LGBTQA community, there is much more to fix. Tolerance and acceptance is a message that will continue to have to be preached, and these traits will and can be found in the queer spaces that are already available and the queer spaces that will be created. But, from visiting the shrine today, I came to also realize that queer space is not necessarily a large area designated and inhabited by queer individuals. I began to weep at the shrine, and the lady that was lighting candles came over and held me. In her arms, there was safety. And I guess that could be taken as a personal queer space.