I've been around the LGBT safe space block a few times - my first encounter with such environments was in LGB (no T in those days vicar) youth groups. As frequent readers of this blog will realise I'm a cynical creature and so 'sharing coming out stories with access to free condoms and pots of Earl Grey' was never really going to be my cup of tea.
I'm not anti safe spaces that attach the word 'queer' to their door nor do I think they do any harm but 9 times out of 10 they become elitist cliques that worry about labels more than the outside world, that was until I popped into the Open Barbers.
Tonight I was invited to get a hair cut in a little salon in Finsbury Park, I'm greeted with a cuddle, a cup of herbal tea and an array of vegan biscuits. Felix Bear and Greygory are the cutters, hosts and social workers making sure you feel happy, comfortable and know everyones name - this isn't any barbers, this is an Open Barbers - a space / salon / meeting room for people who throw pronouns out the window and just want you to have a nice haircut the way you want.
Felix places me in my chair, asks me if I'm ok and at various points stops to make sure I'm happy with how it is all going. This is interjected with chatter about T injections and sore bums.
Its difficult to articulate how comfortable and open the Open-ites are - one minute Liam the tea boy is making me another peppermint tea, the next I'm having a conversation with Mauve about lipcare and overly floral lingo. I'm called he, she, they and person sometimes in the same breath and handed a comment book to write anything I like in whilst stuffing my face with yet another vegan cookie.
I write this blog sat on my sofa feeling like I'm been and gone to a place that real queers only dream of, a place that even being queer is too much of a loaded label and is left outside the salon door.
When Mauve passed me the comment book my mind drew a blank but I decide to nick a Martin Firral quote and add a little flourish...
"You are the truth, this is how it should be"
I urge you to take a trip on the Victoria line one Monday and visit (the extremely beautiful) boys for a trim - I guarantee you will leave feeling wonderful and regain your faith in humanity whilst rocking good hair.