Inside a Safe Place:

The perception of LGBTQ+ urban spaces’ role in shaping feelings of identity, community, and security


  • Anna Capretta University of Padova
  • Bianca D'Anneo University of Padova
  • Giacomo Polignano University of Padova



The influence of LGBTQ+ spaces in defining the urban experience of people belonging to the LGBTQ+ community has become the
subject of a growing literature in the field of urban sociology. Our present research focuses on the perception of these urban
spaces by their attendants and analyses how different LGBTQ+ spaces shape a sense of identity, community, and security among
them. Using the tools of ethnographic research, such as participant observation and in-depth interview, we analysed two
LGBTQ+ friendly spaces located in Padua, an Italian medium-size city with a noteworthy LGBTQ+ history. The selected spaces each
have a different social function: political or recreational; one space is the headquarters of a political association, and the other
one is a club. Our results show that an LGBTQ+ urban space, especially the political one, can have a positive influence on the
perception of a sense of identity, community, and security. This is both thanks to its social function, because it allows for the
creation of solid bonds inside a safe place, and thanks to its history, which makes it a point-of-reference for the local LGBTQ+