Meet the Maker: Sam from Mila

Sam from Mila Plants

I’m Sam, I own MILA – a houseplants and homewares store in Quakers Friars, Bristol. I live with my partner Adam, our friend Amy and her 3 year old daughter Mila.

The article below is a heartfelt and personal piece around why we still need safe spaces in an age where equality is seemingly at an all time high.



What is a safe space and why do we still need them?

As a white, cis-gendered (I identify as the gender I was assigned at birth), British male I am afforded a certain level of privilege (a word which the connotations of sit so uncomfortably with me). I have never been the victim of racism, I haven’t been on the receiving end of gendered bias discrimination with regards to pay, or what I wear, I’ve never had to look in the mirror and be confused or disassociated at the body I see looking back at me. But, as a gay man, I feel uncomfortable holding hands with my partner of 14 years in public, in certain situations I “masc” it up to appear more “straight-acting” and to be honest, its getting pretty exhausting. And that, I feel, is privilege.

I can do all of those things, and I won’t go to jail, I won’t get beaten up and most of the time, I won’t face discrimination. But, members of the LGBTQIA+ (or alphabet gang as I lovingly call us) do. Hate crimes against the trans community have quadrupled in the last five years, the number of hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bi and queer folks has jumped 78% since 2013. Shocking.

We live on our phones these days, we have access to information 24/7, and people have access to us 24/7. All you need do is look at the comments section of anything relating to the LGBTQIA+ community from news sources such as the BBC or Bristol.Live and you will see intolerance, vitriol and abuse. Now imagine you’re 14/15 and you’re looking at this, you’re seeing your peers and elders so brazenly condemning who you are. Imagine being someone who identifies as Trans, having the bravery to live your true life and leave the house presenting as the gender you identify as, only to be met by hate and violence from strangers in the street. This happens, daily. This is why we need safe spaces. This is why we need businesses to speak up and say – you are welcome here, you are loved here. We need spaces where people (because that’s what they are – people) can feel comfortable, safe and happy going about their daily business.

My safe space, my shop (MILA) is a space where anyone can come and feel comfortable and safe. We actively promote the fact that we are queer owned, we display a pride flag with honour to show those who come into our business who we are. This isn’t “the gay-agenda”, this isn’t us trying to convert people or push our views on anyone, this is a symbol of love. A straight person can look at that flag and to them, it just says – pride, it changes nothing, and they go about their business as usual. An LGBTQIA+ person can look at that flag and see acceptance, they can know that they’re somewhere where they can let their guard down and relax, they can be their authentic self.

Anyone, and I mean anyone who walks through our doors will be treated like an old friend, they’ll be met with happiness and equality, with love. Our business is named Mila. She’s 3, she sees everyone as an equal, to her, physical attributes mean nothing – it’s the content of your heart that defines you. Isn’t that perfect? That’s the MILA way.

Sam

(if you read anything in this article that you would like to discuss, debate, add to or challenge, if you just want to reach out – mail me at sam@milaplants.co.uk)


About Mila Plants

Mila is an indie houseplant store finding the best tropical and indoor plants, homewares, pots, and more. Here for all occasions and celebrations. We hand source new stock weekly to ensure we always have something fresh and exciting.


Shop Mila Plants online

Find out more about the makers behind their creative businesses here.

Author: Geraldine Wise

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE

Sam from Mila

Sam, 33, moved to Bristol from his hometown of Coventry 12 years ago. He lives with his boyfriend Adam, friend Amy and Amy's 3 year old daughter and shop namesake Mila. He left a career working in hospitality to set up and run a houseplant and homewares business. His store (located in Quakers Friars, Bristol) opened at the beginning of December and has been a huge hit despite lockdown and local restrictions.