The other night A and I went to a concert. As we hung out and watched the show I noticed two women nearby who were being affectionate with one another. My first thought was “Aw! Cute!” But that thought was immediately followed by, I better keep my eyes open in case someone gives them trouble. For the rest of the evening I kept them in my peripheral vision, making sure they were safe and that no one was giving them a hard time.
This isn’t an isolated situation. Wherever I am if I see someone who is openly queer I watch out for them. I keep them in my sight. I make sure that no one is hassling them and if anyone does I am immediately ready to step in.
At any given time I know where my community is in the space around me and I am looking out for them. I am making sure that they can have a good time and be open and also be safe. I don’t make my presence known, this isn’t about winning points with people, instead I simply pay attention. I know where my people are. I watch the room.
I’ve spoken with other queer and trans folks and we have similar experiences. We scan rooms. We know where the exits are. We make a plan for how we’ll get out of a space if shit goes down. We know where our supporters are, who we can turn to for help.
I am constantly aware when I am in public. Aware of who feels safe and who doesn’t. Aware of who might be getting too drunk and who might become violent in that state. I am aware of who the other visibly queer folks are so I can look out for them. I am aware.
Aware. Wary. Aware.
Do I wish It were different? Sure. But it’s not.
And so I will watch out for my people. We will keep each other safe.