‘The District,’ Described As An LGBT+ Safe Space, Opens In Flint

‘The District,’ Described As An LGBT+ Safe Space, Opens In Flint

In May, a Flint businessman announced the transformation of his downtown Flint restaurant, 501 Bar and Grill, into a safe space called The District, catering towards supporting its local LBGT+ community.

Upon the news, commenters had a mixed reaction to the new establishment, questioning the intentions of the space, given that its owners are two white, cisgendered, and heterosexual men. One naysayer even went so far to refer to one of the partners Phil Shaltz, as a “sleazy bastard,” according to Flint Beat.

The co-owners almost decided to indefinitely halt the renovation, until friends encouraged them to push forward, saying it was “the right thing” for the Michigan city.

The term “safe space” was coined by Moira Kenney in her 2001 novel Mapping Gay L.A. The term has ties to an era of Anti-Sodomy laws in the 60’s where those in the community could come and feel accepted. This, in turn, was adopted into the Women’s Movement and soon carried into all levels of society.

However, The District would not be the first place deemed as such within Flint. Safe Space Ally Drop-in Center and Wellness Services has been a staple in the Flint community since the late 80s. However, during the Covid-19 crisis, the center had to eliminate the program due to social distancing issues.

With the uptick in Anti-LGBTQIA policies and hate crimes, one might be rattled by the comments received on 501’s social media posts.

General manager of the establishment, Amber Weyn, read some facebook comments regarding their “safe space” announcement and decided to clarify, “It doesn’t matter who you are, our establishment is meant for everyone.”

The District hopes to become a place within Flint that supports the idea of a safe space for a multitude of people.

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