This question of appropriateness is, for me, at the heart of all questions around sexuality. Each of us carries within us our own private benchmarks for which expressions of sexuality we find appropriate, and which ones, in turn, have crossed an invisible line. The ones we believe belong across the border, in the land of the inappropriate, of the too much.
I recently watched North Country on Netflix, a movie based on a true story of a woman’s fight for equality at the workplace. It is based on the case, Jenson vs Eveleth Mines, in the United States in which Lois Jenson, fought for the right to work as a miner, and the right to work free of sexual harassment. She won the landmark 1984 lawsuit, which was the first class-action lawsuit on sexual harassment at the workplace in the United States and resulted in companies/organisations having to introduce sexual harassment policies at the workplace.
LGBTIQA+ young people should feel safe and empowered in everyday physical spaces, and many do – often with support from a wider community of peers who share similar experiences. But until the world becomes more friendly for queer and gender diverse people, we expect they’ll continue to find safety, community, identity, and friendship on Tumblr.
While some of these questions seem old, they continue to be renewed in public debate on competing claims to public spaces. Ideas about public and private spaces also speak to the ways in which caste and class shape ideas about respectability, thus marking some places as ‘safe’ and others as ‘risky’.