I wish I could tell you the number of times that I have sat around tables, participated in conversations where straight people have told me that they don’t believe that queer folx need specific classes or spaces for self-defense. Some of them are well-meaning, some not. Some have said that queer folx will face more challenges so they should be put in a space that will challenge them like the real world. Others have said that the LGBTQ+ community is no different than the straight community and so there is no need for a separate class. In some ways, I can sympathize with well-meaning folks, even if I don’t agree with them. They want to try and support by including, which I understand. But there are times when we need a space of our own. In this blog post, I will explore the reasons why it is important to have such a space and the benefits it can bring.
Build Confidence, Reduce Anxiety
We have to keep in mind the violence that the LGBTQ+ community still faces. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), hate violence against the LGBTQ+ community increased by 43% in 2019. This trend continues despite the progress made towards LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance. Many queer folx may have experienced trauma due to past experiences of violence or harassment or have anxiety around the possibility of encountering verbal or physical attacks. As a result, they may require a safe and supportive environment to feel comfortable enough to learn and practice self-defense. By learning self-defense techniques in a supportive environment, queer folx can build their confidence and develop the skills they need to protect themselves without the anxiety of prying eyes or even the possibility of harassment. This increased confidence can also have a ripple effect outside of self-defense, empowering queer folx to take on new challenges and pursue their goals in other areas of their lives with greater determination.
Focusing On The Needs Of Queer Folx
When we talk about women’s only classes, we acknowledge that there are certain attacks that women are more likely to face. In the same way, it’s important to acknowledge that queer folx are also more likely to face specific attacks, both due to hate and violence.
When teaching LGBTQ+ classes, I often focus on multiple attackers. It is both a scary and unfortunate reality that opponents often come in groups, feeding off of each other during an attack.
People will often argue and say that ALL people should fear a multiple attacker situation. This is true, but I want to go back to the opening of this section and discuss women’s only classes. When we say that women’s only classes focus on certain self-defense techniques, we’re not saying that means they’ll never need to learn anything else. What we’re saying is that the likelihood of a woman experiencing an attack like this is higher, and so we train for it sooner. The same can be said for the queer community: there are certain attacks we’re more likely to see and it’s important to train people in them sooner rather than later.
Belonging And Community
The LGBTQ+ community is beautifully diverse, but it is also sadly united by a shared experience of discrimination. By training together in self-defense, queer folx can create a sense of solidarity and support, building connections with others who understand their experiences. I’ve seen this happen in my classes, especially among younger adults who are just coming out. It’s been huge for them to see those of us in the community who are older, both as people who are out, but also people who are still learning about ourselves. Having a community that you can look to in times of need is incredible, it can change everything.
At Valley Self-Defense, that’s what we hope to give to our queer community: physical skills but also confidence, awareness, and a safe space to learn and grow. We strive to provide a space where the LGBTQ+ community can come together for safety and self-care.
We started by telling queer folx how to find inclusive gyms, but decided to tell gym owners how to make their space more inclusive instead.
Being a queer-friendly space has, at times, been rough, but it's been worth it.
Krav Maga near me? There is! If you're looking for a Krav Maga class near you, Valley Self-Defense is a proud member of the International Krav Maga Federation with schools located across the United States. To find a school near you, visit the IKMF USA website.