Letters – issue 105
Safe Spaces – What’s all that about then?
One of the most distinctive things about BiCon, as well as the wonderful people that you will meet and fabulous conversations that you will have, is that there are sections on the schedule that are labelled as ‘only’ or ‘safe’ spaces. Now you may be wondering how this fits in with the grand theme of inclusiveness that BiCon strives to promote. After all, it’s not very inclusive to have sessions that deliberately exclude sections of the BiCon populous, is it?
However, these safe spaces are precisely that; places where people can feel safe and less alone. Despite the fact that BiCon is an empowering, accepting environment, sometimes it can feel that you are the only person that is experiencing your own particular issues or difficulties. These safe spaces enable people who feel very isolated within all communities to discover that they are not alone; that there are other people who have an understanding of how they feel, and that can be incredibly liberating.
These spaces are vitally important, and their existence means that BiCon can keep its reputation of being inclusive. Odd as it may seem, the existence of safe or only spaces means that more people feel that they are going to be welcome at BiCon; that they are going to be able to meet people that, whilst not having exactly the same experiences as them, can understand and appreciate the feelings they have.
Also it has been well documented that people talk and listen differently when among those that they feel are their peers, rather than in mixed groups. These spaces are needed to ensure that people feel their experiences and feelings are valid, and that validation comes best when shared with people who have familiarity of the situation. No one should have to explain why they need the space, or what comes out of any discussion unless they want to.
“That BiCon has these safe spaces is not intended to make anyone feel that they are being excluded. Anyone can set up a safe or only space (within reason), and whilst the whole of BiCon can be seen as a safe space, sometimes we need the ability to pull away from the main part of BiCon and discuss issues and experiences that are not pertinent to the community as a whole. This is why we use the individual safe spaces.
So, please, don’t feel excluded by the few safe or only spaces in the BiCon programme; feel proud that you are part of a community that acknowledges that in order to be inclusive, there are times when you have to be a little exclusive!
BCN’s website www.bicommunitynews.co.uk has had a makeover. It is because we’re now using a ‘content management system’ for our web pages instead of having to write each one individually – which was getting tricky as the website grew and a change here required lots of changes there, there and there. Adding things to the site should now happen more easily so for instance more back issues can be added. Hope you’ll like what we’ve done!
Jen, BCN Towers