Erin’s Safe Haven Experience

Erin had her first taste of Safe Haven in April 2016, she tells of her unique experience.

Last weekend I went to a venue called Safe Haven in Camborne, Cornwall. A new friend I met told of the event. Inside I was reserved at first. I traditionally disliked events that involved dancing, clubs and the like. I always felt out of place and self conscious. But something inside told that voice to shut up. I had to say yes. I just had a feeling.

The closer the event came the more I began to feel excited for a weekend away. Friday came and I had a job interview in the morning, which was a great affirming experience to attend an interview as Erin. On the return to my house my road was blocked by police cars, while an irate looking scrap dealer surveyed the mess he had made of someone’s garden wall after not attaching a car properly to his truck before driving off!

I rushed to change and pack two bags before my friends arrived. I wondered if the number of police and people watching the wreck on the road would be an issue if my friends had not been out dressed in public, and I was a bit nervous myself. Any concerns I had about getting attention from people of the road were quickly put to bed as I answered the door and my friend was there with her neon pink umbrella! Lets rock it I thought! All eyes on us! Fabulous!

We arrived at the venue, and I was nervous to meet everyone, and wanted to make a good impression. I baked a banana bread to share with everyone and was even nervous about that! We were greeted by Jackie et al. and already my nerves were eased. Inside, everyone was friendly. I was still a little nervous but everyone was nice, warm and welcoming. Soon we settled into our caravan and changed for the evening. 

That evening I felt my guard and reservedness melt away. I was able to be at ease. We had a relaxed evening chatting, playing pool and having a drink. It was great to be around people who were going through a similar experience to myself in a normal, casual and sociable setting. That evening we danced the night away and I had an epiphany moment where I was finally just me, myself, relaxed and free.

The next day was revelatory. I was so relaxed, and there were no more doubtful or negative voices in my head. In such an accepting group of people I was able to be myself and see clearly who I am in a way I had not experienced before. Although I had already changed my name and transitioned on paper, I felt like I was able to be totally Erin for the first time here.

We lounged away in the sun during the day. That evening more people arrived and we had drinks and a lovely meal to start the evening off. Then the music came on and for the first time in my life I thought “I want to dance!” 

Words scarcely do justice to the wonderfulness of Safe Haven. It was such a social, friendly, welcoming, hilarious and liberating experience to meet such genuine and friendly people that I cried on the Saturday night, overwhelmed.

I felt free. I felt like me. In that welcoming and accepting environment, without inhibition nor self-consciousness I was so at ease with myself, with who I am. I had no doubts as to my transition. I was simply Erin. I took this feeling away with me, and feel a new confidence to face the outside world.

To anyone thinking about coming along to a future event I say that there is nothing to fear from anyone there. You couldn’t find a nicer bunch! Accepting of anyone and everyone.

Erin x

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