In a society that discriminates against, rejects, and marginalizes LGBTQ folks, especially queer and trans people of color, safe spaces are a necessary haven. In a city often hostile to LGBTQ folks, Pulse Nightclub was a sanctuary for many. Early Sunday morning, that sacred space was violated in the most appalling of ways. Amid hatred and ignorance, this tragedy only reinforces the importance of and need for safe spaces.
For many LGBTQ folks here in Tucson, the ANCHOR House serves as their safe space. In addition to offering services like housing, employment, and educational assistance, support groups, and recovery coaching, the ANCHOR House itself is a huge aspect of the program. It’s a place where participants can come and be themselves, spend time with other LGBTQ folks and allies, and be affirmed in their identities.
How we make ANCHOR safe:
- Inside and outside, ANCHOR looks like a house! With a fireplace, couch, real plates and utensils, a self-serve fridge, and walls adorned with affirming art created by local queer artists, the ANCHOR House is meant to feel like home. This also means we ask folks to treat it like home: do your dishes, clean up after yourself, and take pride in the space. It’s yours as much as it is ours.
- We acknowledge and honor chosen names and your correct pronouns. We do this via nametags or simply asking how folks like to be identified.
- We establish and enforce Group Agreements. Although we emphasize the agreements at the beginning of groups, they apply to the space at all times. Be respectful; maintain confidentiality; take care of yourself; don’t yuck someone’s yum; assume best intentions; keep an open mind; express yourself; think, speak, repeat; the right to opt out. Adhering to these understandings, among others, upholds an environment of respect and safety.
- We have staff who genuinely care and will listen. We might not have all the answers or be able to give advice, but we can certainly offer an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and arms to hug.
During this difficult time, the ANCHOR House will continue to be a safe haven, a space where folks can lean on each other for support, and where we can work toward healing together.