No matter who you are and what your gender or sexual orientation might be, you know that conflict is part of life. Plus, it’s a fairly known fact that any member of the LGBTQ+ community does not shy away from a fight. But we do it somewhat differently. Why? Because we’ve fought for our rights from day one, and we still have to weed out harassment, abuse (both verbal and physical), and threats from our communities around the world.
Yes, we’ve come a long way, and new legislation and laws are changing how any society can treat a queer person. Just this month, the Supreme Court ruled that the Civil Rights Act from 1964 protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination.
That, however, is no guarantee that you’re safe when you’re going back home from a rave dressed like a fabulous, shimmering queen that you are. All it takes is one drunk and angry person for all hell to break loose. Recognizing that threats do exist is necessary, and taking precautions and empowering yourself even more so. Here are a few key steps you can take to protect yourself if you ever find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.
First and foremost – take a class
Nothing can replace the experience and knowledge you gain from professional self-defense instructors and actual hand-to-hand combat. It’s stressful, psychologically and physically challenging, and it helps you manage your response to stressful situations, teaches you how to behave in case of a conflict, and shows you how to handle yourself in case you get injured.
Research your local self-defense classes such as Krav Maga or jiujitsu, where you can consistently improve your skills, your stamina, and of course, build up tolerance to stress.
Learn how to handle and manage a weapon
In your self-defense courses, you’ll have some experience with weapons and attacks involving knives, guns, and bats. In addition to learning how to deflect and defend yourself from such attacks and how to disarm your opponent, you also need to be able to handle that weapon afterwards. Moreover, if you live in a country that lets you use a gun for self-defense and own a gun at home, you can practice on a regular basis at a local shooting range.
Just make sure that you also store your gun safely at home, to prevent accidents. Go online and read various gun safe reviews to get a storage unit that can hold your weapon safely. They come with all kinds of security features such as fingerprint sensors for quick access, and of course, make sure that the capacity and the dimensions fit your needs.
Rely on tech to send a signal
Yes, the digital world is a wonderful place for having fun, and we all know that online dating can be an amazing experience to find your significant other. However, your phone is not restricted to Tinder and similar apps that connect you with other LGBTQ+ members wherever you go.
In fact, you can use your phone to download a security app that will send out a distress signal to a specific list of your contacts together with your location, to alert them that you’re in danger. Even when you’re alone, you don’t have to be alone, so to speak.
Body language tells a unique story
For one, you should be able to recognize different body language signals that indicate a threat. Of course, you should also be mindful of those minor, potential red flags just to stay aware of your position. For example, if you see someone approaching you with their hands in their pockets or one hand behind their back, but you cannot clearly tell that they’re only holding a phone. Keeping your distance and staying aware is vital.
Then again, make sure you know how to adapt your own body language in difficult situations. This is one of the simplest ways to deescalate a situation and try to avoid conflict altogether. Your own behavior can completely turn a situation around in your favor.
Learn about situational awareness
Now that you’ve taken those various self defense lessons, you know how to identify the most sensitive parts of an assailant’s body, and you know how to manage a threat, you also need to be aware of your immediate surroundings. The notion is called situational awareness, or simply being mindful of the people, objects, and the terrain around you.
Spotting a threatening individual is just a start. You should be able to quickly notice the ideal escape route, any vehicles coming your way, or people around you that could get injured in case of a brawl. This is a learned skill, so make sure you practice whenever you’re outside, alone or with people.
As you already know, standing up for yourself is not just a set of useful moves, but a mindset, and a life philosophy. If you’re used to keeping your head down and staying quiet, you will need time to build this mindset that could potentially be life-saving down the line. Use these and other tips to keep yourself and your loved ones safe, although we do hope you’ll never have to use anything more than a sassy comeback and a persuasive argument to end a conflict.