We signed a contract for our office. We submitted the deposit, and our move-in date is November 7th. While it felt surreal to finally sign a contract, we simultaneously felt a huge sense of responsibility. While visiting real estate offices and looking at office space, we had been concerned about whether or not we would be able to find an office in a convenient and appropriate location considering the financial limit set for the office rental deposit and monthly rental fees. However, we think we’ve found a great space for our three-year Safe Space “incubating” period.
The new space is located in Seongbuk District between Sungshin Women’s University Station and Hansung University Station. The building is easy to find with Seongbuk Stream flowing quietly to its left. We will have the entire floor to ourselves, so we won’t have to worry about being overly considerate of floor-mates. At first we looked for a space in Bomun-dong near Dongmyo Shrine but couldn’t find anything adequate. Still, we’re happy with our location near Hansung University Station, as it is close to major urban neighborhoods such as Jongno, Hyehwa, Dongdaemun, etc., and close to the southern border of Seongbuk District, which is a district located in northern Seoul.
Our hope was to create a community-run counseling center for LGBT youth, and we came to select Seongbuk District for many reasons. After hearing news about our plans to establish the center in Seongbuk, conservative Christian groups began to hold daily one-person protests and pass out fliers in front of the Seongbuk district office. However, we continued forward. Seongbuk is a district with a pro-LGBT rights community, education activists, human rights team, and human rights commission. We thought Seongbuk would be an area where we could gain energy from various other groups.
Our space is located on the third floor of a five-story building. Unfortunately, however, there is no elevator. The space measures just over 21 pyeong (69 square meters) and has a water supply, so we should be able to create a kitchen in which to share hot meals with our visitors and also install a washing machine. While we are not capable of establishing a shelter at this point, there is at the very least a small resting area where visitors can take a short nap, a space that we plan to use for counseling sessions, and even room to create a space for programs for up to 15 participants. While there is a lot of arranging and decorating to do, we hope to have an opening celebration and around late November or early December at the latest.
While we know we’ve already received a lot of help and support from all of you, we have yet another request. Currently, all we have is a desk, a laptop, and a few file folders. We are in need of plates and blankets and everything else to furnish our new space. Even rice that’s been in the kitchen for a while or side dishes would be helpful. If anyone has any items at home that aren’t being used, we’d gladly take them off your hands in late November-early December. ^^
Our efforts to create a safe space for LGBT youth… We’ve come so far, in a society has no interest in the crises and discrimination that sexual minorities face. With a little more effort, more hope, and more interest, we can raise the bar on LGBT human rights.
We heard a story at the 20th anniversary celebration for Yeollim-teo Korea National Counseling Center for Sexual Assault. When the center first tried to open a shelter for victims of incest and sexual abuse, building managers, just by hearing the term “sexual assault counseling center” did not want to rent out their units. When we signed our contract, we told the building manager that we were going to open a counseling and education center for youth in crisis. We didn’t, however, mention that these youth were LGBT youth. The manager praised us for doing good work. We contemplated hard about going a step further and sharing more information with the building manager, but we decided to stop there – that way the youth visiting the center won’t have to deal with as many stares. For now, however, we are just happy to have met a nice landlord.
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