“[I Feel] Safer In My Identities”
by Breanna Hudson
Matters of safety and vulnerability in the public sphere have dominated much of the discourse in both everyday queer media and scholarship in queer geography, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) individuals continue to face often violent discrimination in public spaces. This project, while acknowledging the difficulty other researchers have discovered in conceptualizing queer space, addresses a gap within queer geography. Little research has been done to analyze the contradiction that lies in the conceptualization many individuals have of “queer spaces” as sites of safety and sites of increased vulnerability. Therefore, this research explores how sexualized spaces are identified, how safety is conceptualized for queer individuals in differentially sexualized spaces, and examines how these different conceptualizations interact to create contradictory spaces of safety and vulnerability. Personalized maps were used to deconstruct a static geography of sexualized space in Seattle. Qualitative interviews with LGBTQ-identified Seattle residents were coded and thematically analyzed for patterns of how subjective geographies of un/safe are constructed by queer individuals. This research highlights the importance of lived experiences in understanding how space is categorized and perceived, as well the need for ontological safety to play a larger role in the overall conceptualization of queer vulnerability.
KEY WORDS: sexualized space; queer space; safety; Seattle