Colorado Springs shooting shows LGBTQ+ people facing ‘a different kind of hate’

are co-owners of Colorado The Spring gay nightclub, which was the scene of the mass shooting, believes the attack is a reflection of anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to provocation.

Authorities have not said why the suspect allegedly opened fire at the club on Saturday, killing five people and wounding 17 others. The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, has not entered a plea or spoken about the incident but is facing possible hate crime charges.

Club Q co-owner Nick Grzecka said he believed the drag event’s targeting was related to the art form being tarnished in recent months by right-wing activists and politicians as “sexualizing” children. Or complain about “grooming”.

“Walking down the street holding your lover’s hand and spitting is a different matter, [as opposed to] A politician relating a drag queen to the caretaker of his children,” Grjeka said. “I’d rather spit on the street than have the hate get as bad as we are today.”

earlier this year, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill Prohibiting teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with young students. one month later, References to “pedophile” and “grooming” increased by 400% in relation to LGBTQ+ peopleAccording to a report by the Human Rights Campaign.

“Lying about our community, and making them into something they are not, creates a different kind of hatred,” Grjeka said.

Grjeka, who began mopping floors and bartending at Club Q in 2003, said she hopes to channel her grief and anger into figuring out how to rebuild the unique support system for Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ+ community. Club, the only gay bar. Conservative city, granted.

Matthew Haynes, front, and Nick Grjeka, co-owners of Club Q, address a memorial for those killed in the shooting.
Club Q co-owners Matthew Haynes, front, and Nick Grjeka address a memorial for those killed in the shooting. Photograph: David Zalubowski/AP

City and state officials have offered support, and Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Grjeka and co-owner Matthew Haynes on Thursday to offer condolences and reiterate their support for the community, as well as the fight against hate. Reached out to reiterate his commitment. gun violence.

After becoming a co-owner in 2014, Grjeka helped mold Club Q into a community hub – a platform for LGBTQ+ people to form “chosen families”, especially those who were gay at the time of their birth. Were separated from families.

“When that system goes away, you realize how much more the bar was actually providing,” said Justin Byrne, an organizer for Pikes Peak Pride. “Where do people who may or may not be part of the Club Q family go?”

Byrne said the shooting exposed a widespread lack of resources for LGBTQ+ people in Colorado Springs. Byrne is working with Grjeka and other national organizations to assess community need as they develop a blueprint to offer a strong support network.

Grjeka is looking for the support needed to rebuild a “loving culture” and “make sure this tragedy is the best thing that can happen to the city.”

“Everyone needs community,” he said.

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