Allied Space

A Review of An Event:

The cafe I work at has built a reputation for being eccentric and quirky, bu more than anything, it’s supposed to be safe.

It’s supposed to be a safe place for people of any economic background; safe for people of any culture, from any country, folks identifying with any number of letters from the alphabet.

The other day, that safe space was violated. It wasn’t done with any ill-intent, but ignorance isn’t an acceptable reason for polluting what is supposed to be a haven from all of the shit that gets slung in the world.

I’m going to own this one, because I *do* know better, and I did not work nearly as confidently towards steering the conversation away from the topic of “gay cowboys” to a less reactive place.

I’m still learning to fit in at the cafe and I allowed my own minor discomfort over my own place within the culture of the workplace to justify not taking greater action. That was wrong on my part, and cowardly, and I’m going to try really hard to do better in the future. I was afraid of potentially damaging the relationships I’ve been building (even though I know that I don’t want to build a relationship that involves me not being able to stand for the things I believe in).

Anyway, things were said, and it was enough that it made patrons so uncomfortable they left.

After they left, I tried to explain why the customers might have been uncomfortable with the subject matter (and the treatment of it).

That part actually went pretty well. The guy who was steering the conversation, isn’t a bad guy. He’s just got that ignorant, dickhead, frat-boy thing going on which means that, if it’s at all possible, negative amounts  of thinking take place before he opens his mouth. Sometimes it can be difficult to balance a delicate ego with being firm on the subject of “Hey, that behaviour is really unacceptable.”, but in the end we totally worked it out. It took a bit of a sit-down, but after that, he absolutely understood what I was trying to say, and since then, “gay” has been replaced with “shitty” in his vocabulary, and it’s all about ending micro-aggresions.

Now for the second part of the story, (disclaimer: the part of the story where I get angry and blame the patriarchy a lot) that is far more frustrating.

I was chilling in the back, after The Incident, but before the confrontation, sort of just getting my head back on straight, and figuring out how I wanted to approach Frat-Boy Guy, when this other dude shows up.

Other Dude takes me aside and explains that “some people are delicate” and “will never understand ‘safe spaces'” and that I don’t even get to try explaining, because it will upset him.

I almost cried. I almost punched that guy in the face.

I am so sorry that my admittedly pathetic attempt at being an ally is so threatening to you that you need to re-assert your position in the patriarchy as a white, cisgender, heterosexual male.

God forbid that *you* ever be made to feel uncomfortable.

I’m sorry that your clear aesthetics of “other’ness has led you to be sidelined on so many occasions that being defensive seems like the only viable option.

Oh wait. You’ve never experienced *ANY* of that.

And you don’t even have the balls to come on behalf of yourself. You’re hiding your discomfort in the shadow of someone else’s behaviour.

Fuck you, motherfucking dickhead.


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