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    Halloween Safety (and Throughout the Whole Year, Too)

    cuavauthorAs you don your costume for the gay High Holy Day of Halloween, don’t forget to make a plan for your safety. Have a travel plan and go with friends if you can. Let someone you trust know your plans. Watch your drink. And remember, above all: Your boundaries are beautiful. It’s more than okay to say “no.”

    For the longest time, I was not a fan of “safety plans.” They felt like boring, static, impractical documents filled with endless questions that community leaders were always telling community members to create before they went out for the night. They didn’t feel connected to my life and really didn’t feel connected to the sense of carefree fun that I wanted to experience when I went out with my friends or partner. And, for sure, they could not hold enough weight to be of any use when going to see my family.

    Fortunately for me, as a staff person at Community United Against Violence (CUAV), I was gifted the opportunity to give safety planning a second chance. As someone working to build safety and power in LGBTQ communities, I needed to learn to embrace the “safety plan.”

    So, one day, I decided to take my safety plan on a date. We got all dressed up, went to a fancy dinner, ordered a bottle of sparkling water, and stared deep into each other’s eyes. The conversation started with the usual superficial banter… What’s your favorite music? If your personality could be a celebrity, who would it be? Do you prefer glitter or sequins?

    But as the night went on, the conversation got deeper. I began to get curious about where safety plans came from, if they had dreams, and if they had fears. And as my safety plan started talking, the story started to sound familiar. The safety plan revealed to me my dreams and my fears. In an instant, the plan magically dissolved to uncover my own reflection. We were one and the same; the ability to plan for my safety had been inside of me all along. I just needed some practice to learn to see it!

    What I learned is that safety planning is an action, not a thing. It’s a skill that we can practice that is about creating options, listening to our intuition, and following our self-determination. It’s not an obstacle to having fun; it’s what makes sure we get to have the day or night that we envision, where every action we take meets a need or a want of our own.


    Safety planning is the act of checking in with ourselves before we enter a potentially unsafe situation and asking questions like, “Let’s imagine some different scenarios that might happen today. How would I want to respond if…?” Or, “How would I feel most comfortable going out tonight? What would I need?” Or even, “What have I done in the past that has helped me have the afternoon I wanted?” That way, when we get approached by the cute person staring at us from across the party, we’ll know we’re taken care of because we’ll know our needs and limits.

    As you get ready to go out today or any other day, we invite you to check out our safety tips at Or, make some of your own
    and then share them on Facebook or with your friends and neighbors. They’re sure to appreciate this treat.

    Stacy Umezu is the Programs Co-Director of Community United Against Violence (CUAV).