When Safe Spaces Aren’t

Feb 26, 2008 may seem like just another day to most people, in fact it probably feels like a regular day to everyone else I went to college with.  Not for me, however.  You see, on Feb 26, I woke up and put on three loads of laundry and walked back to my room when my phone began to buzz.  The message was from our emergency alert system, informing the college campus that we were on lockdown.  There was a man on campus, with a gun.

The reports were that in the early morning hours, one of the staff members was taking out trash and saw a man with a gun.  This was less than a year after the massacre at Virginia Tech.  I went to college only 45 miles south of Blacksburg.  It felt like there was a rock in my stomach.

My roommate and I sat in our room for hours, watching the TV and fielding phone calls with our families.  Then, there was a knock at the door.  I opened the door to several SWAT members, and a large gun pointed not too far from my face.  I could have broken down in tears right there.

My safe space, my room, my home away from home had been compromised.  The moment those men and women walked into our room, they took away the sacredness and safety.  They made me weary of going back into my room in the weeks that followed.

I have been searching and praying for words to offer my LGBTQ family and friends.  I haven’t been able to.  I am in total shock.  I can only begin to imagine the fear that you are feeling.  I can only imagine what it feels like for a safe space to no longer be.

My friends, my family, my brothers and sisters and everything in between.  You are loved.  You are so very loved.  I am sorry for the hatred that was shown this past weekend.  I am sorry for the silence of those who should be using their power and privilege to protect you.

I pray for safe spaces to reemerge. I pray that we gather at the river.  I pray and hope and know that we shall overcome.

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