Signs showing safe spaces on display at businesses, homes

  A Safe Space sign posted at Coldwell Banker's
  Flossmoor office.
(Photo by Tom Houlihan/
  H-F Chronicle)
 
Safe spaces are emerging all around the Homewood-Flossmoor area.
 
In the last week, nearly all the businesses in downtown Flossmoor have started displaying rainbow-colored signs with these words “Diverse … Inclusive … Accepting … Welcoming … Safe Space for Everyone.”
 
The signs — they are postcard-sized, measuring six inches by four inches — are also displayed by a number of businesses in downtown Homewood as a show of support for an open community that welcomes all types of people.
 
Stephanie Wright, a co-founder of Lighthouse LGBTQ+, distributed the signs after posting on social media that they were available to interested businesses and residents.
 
At exactly 3:27 p.m. on June 5, Wright, of Flossmoor, announced on Facebook that Safe Space signs were available. Almost immediately, people said they wanted the signs. Within a few hours, more than 2,500 persons had responded to her post, “So I got on my bike and started delivering them around Homewood and Flossmoor.” 

Wright initially had 100 signs printed. By this Tuesday, all but 20 had been taken.
 
The signs, she said, deliver a powerful message.
 
“They say, ‘You are welcome here regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic status,’” she said.
 
Prospective business owners or residents who see the signs will also learn that Homewood and Flossmoor are communities that welcome a diverse population, Wright said.
 
Hart Wellness, in Flossmoor, was the first business to hang up a sign, she said. The owners, Derek and Linzie Hartman, were “so enthusiastic that they wanted to hang it up immediately,” she said.
 
Lighthouse, the south suburban area’s first support program for gay young people and their parents, was founded in 2016 to provide support for teens and adults who are processing their gender identity and for the parents and guardians who love them.
 
Wright said she discussed the signs with her three Lighthouse partners before making them available to the community. Lighthouse plans to distribute 300 additional signs at this year’s Pride Party on June 22.
 
Several H-F area residents have also requested the signs for their homes, or to share with family members, Wright said. She provided one of the signs to a teacher in New Lenox. 
 
Jim Donnelly, the owner of Melody Mart in Homewood, said the signs show that the H-F communities are “forward thinking, open and accepting.”
 
“Diverse, inclusive, accepting, welcoming, safe space for everyone. That says it all,” he said. 
 
As a gay man and business owner, Donnelly says he’s totally behind what the signs represent. He said he is on the verge of making a decision on repainting the façade of his music store, one of the oldest businesses in downtown Homewood. He is considering rainbow colors for the front of the store.
 
Also, Donnelly would like to produce a larger version of the Safe Space sign that would include pictures of people in families. He said he’d like to give a copy of that sign to Wright.
 
“If you’re going to have a strong community, people need to have the same attitude about some things,” he said. “And one of them is that everyone is safe.”
 
Lisa Komorowski, co-owner of Loulou Belle in Homewood, said the sign is in her store’s window because “we’re a safe space.”
 
She called the signs “a fantastic idea” and said “we’re big fans of Lighthouse.” Loulou Belle was among a dozen businesses that sponsored last year’s inaugural Pride Party and is also sponsoring this year’s event.
 
The Pride Party will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. June 22 at Flossmoor Community House, 847 Hutchinson Road.

Wright said she dropped off signs at the following businesses and organizations:
 
Hart Wellness, Flossmoor Public Library, Flossmoor Community Church, Healthy Hounds, Leland Grove Law offices, Diamond Point Travel, Law Office of Peter G. Hallam, Bakewell Bakery, Tovar Shoe Repair and Custom Designs, Coldwell Banker Flossmoor, Bistro on Sterling, Every Tooth Counts, Drew Mormann State Farm Flossmoor, Flossmoor Family Auto, Flossmoor Quick Mart, Design by Doyle, US Bank Flossmoor, BMO Harris Bank Flossmoor, Valentino for Men and Flossmoor Station & Brewery.
 
Homewood Florist, UpsaDaisy, Loulou Belle Homewood, Loulou Belle Frankfort, Art 4 Soul, Redbird Café, Copper Still, McDermott Law Group LLC, The Villager Card and Gift Shop, South Suburban Family Shelter, Jonathan Kane Salon and Spa, Panda Baby Cookies, Olive Branch, Counseling Tinley Park, The Sunshine Kitchen, Homewood Science Center, Melody Mart and Thomas Photography.
 

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