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The infiltration of LGBTQ+ safe spaces

Daniel Baxter (Department of Fashion, Marketing, Tourism and Events, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Steve Jones (British and Irish Modern Music Institute, Hove, UK)
Claire Leer (Faculty of Business and Law, University of Northampton, Northampton, UK)

International Journal of Event and Festival Management

ISSN: 1758-2954

Article publication date: 28 November 2023




LGBTQ+ spaces are often considered as safe havens for the LGBTQ+ community, as they can gather free from prejudice and fear. This research explores the effect that heterosexual people attending LGBTQ+ venues have on this community. This paper considers the impacts on the community, the importance of their safe spaces and identifies practical implications to be considered in protecting these spaces.


The study implemented a multi-method qualitative data collection approach with LGBTQ+ community venue attendees in the UK. Stage 1 utilised an online qualitative survey and collected data from 558 respondents. Stage 2 saw critical incident techniques (CITs) used with 12 participants. The data collected were analysed using a thematic system.


The LGBTQ+ community has experienced an increase in frustration and fear as a result of more heterosexual attendees infiltrating their safe spaces. Both participants and respondents discussed the importance that security personnel play in ensuring safe spaces. Finally, the findings demystified that not all attendees in LGBTQ+ venues are allies, and that there is a need for those outside the community to better understand the importance of these spaces for the LGBTQ+ community, as many heterosexuals do not consider how they should act.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations associated with the implementation of the CIT were identified. Further training is advised for researchers employing this method to prepare them for dealing with the emotional impact of participants’ experiences.

Practical implications

This study highlighted the need for security and staff working at LGBTQ+ venues to undergo extensive inclusivity training, and for stricter door policies. Participants also argued for LGBTQ+ venues to educate heterosexual attendees about the community and their historical and present-day struggles and culture.


This paper is of practical value to those who organise and manage LGBTQ+ events, bars and nightclubs. An enhancement to the four types of space framework originated by Castilhos and Dolbec (2018) has been identified.



The research leading to these results has received funding from the University of Northampton.


Baxter, D., Jones, S. and Leer, C. (2023), "The infiltration of LGBTQ+ safe spaces", International Journal of Event and Festival Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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