This note reached me via Facebook, and I think it’s worth re-posting here. (S Noah Shuman, by the way, is a rock star who also goes to Columbia/The Jewish Theological Seminary.)
God Hates Signs
1. Are rooms without this sign unsafe for members of the queer community? If there was a homophobic axe-murderer on the loose and I was trying to find a place of refuge, would I only be granted entry into these rooms? If I enter into rooms without this sign, am I no longer safe? The very idea that there needs to be a sign concerns me. Shouldn’t it be assumed that all spaces in this dorm are safe spaces? Am I foolish for assuming this?
2. Could you imagine putting up a sign that reads: “This Room Is A Safe Space For Black People”? Subtext: if you’re black and you come into my room, I will not spew any racial epithets. Do you think that would fly? Why is this any different?
3. This sign feeds into an insidious trope: queer people, in a constant state of emotional upheaval, distress, and vulnerability, need constant “protection” and support from friends and family. While members of this imaginary collective called the “LGBT community” (where do we hold our annual meetings?) might feel alienated at times, this sign somehow suggests that we find ourselves in a constant state of emotional instability. Every time I pass by this sign should I wonder: is there something wrong with me? If I’m feeling secure and healthy…why do I need a place of refuge, a “safe” space? Are you my “noblesse oblige”? This sign, at its core, communicates a patronizing and disempowering message.
4. Telling queer people that your room is a “safe” space is a pretty low standard. Safety is a right that should be provided to all (see Point 1). As a teenager from Seattle so eloquently explained in a YouTube video entitled “Reteaching Gender and Sexuality”: “I don’t want safe spaces…I want liberating spaces!” If you feel that you must post a sign, please set the bar a little higher…
5.God Hates Signs.