Reconnecting Rainbows has been funded by a Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Fellowship Local Area Grant to identify ‘Rainbow Safe Spaces’ in Southampton. Our project will celebrate and promote cafes, restaurants and pubs where everyone can feel safe and comfortable – whatever their sexuality, gender or ethnicity.
For some of us, the fear of being verbally or physically abused just for being ourselves is still very real. Recent research shows that 75% of same-sex couples don’t feel comfortable holding hands in public, because they’re worried about homophobia, and 43% of transgender people have experienced a hate crime in the past year. Racism has increased dramatically since the Brexit vote.
We are developing Rainbow Safe Space Awards to honour venues that are truly committed to LGBTQIA+ and BAME equality and inclusion – not just at Pride, but all year round. In the first year of this pilot project, we’re focusing on mapping and promoting independent cafes, pubs and restaurants in Southampton that have been nominated by the LGBTIQA+ community as ‘safe spaces’. We’ve also added a shout out for other awesome businesses that are proactive in supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, especially in the Cultural Quarter, which is rapidly emerging as an inclusive and affirming arts scene.
- All Rainbow Safe Space Award recipients are committed to making sure that if any customer feels threatened or is being harassed, the staff will have their back.
- They’ve all agreed not to give a platform to artists and groups who are openly racist, homophobic or transphobic.
- Some even go the extra mile by hosting and promoting events by LGBTQIA+ artists, providing Diversity and Inclusion training for their staff, and/or providing meeting spaces for support groups and social groups.
- As gender-neutral (unisex) toilets are hugely important for many trans and non-binary people, our map will include information on what type of toilets each venue has!
If you are a business owner and think your place might be a Rainbow Safe Space, please contact us and let us know how you’re already supporting the LGBTQIA+ and BAME community and what else you hope to achieve within the next year. We’ll be in touch soon for a chat, and if you’re successful in gaining an award, we’ll put you on the map!
Our #RainbowSafeSpaceAwards Southampton map is being created by artist Deborah Ireland, and copies of the first edition (showing independent venues nominated by the LGBTQIA+ community) will be available in Southampton from October 2018.