Home World Colorado gay club owner: Shooting comes amid a new ‘type of hate’

Colorado gay club owner: Shooting comes amid a new ‘type of hate’

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Jesse Bedayn, Associated Press

Published Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 3:18 PM EST

Last Updated Thursday 24 November 2022 8:38 PM EST

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – A gay nightclub partner in Colorado Springs said a shooter turned a drag queen’s birthday celebration into a massacre. 5 killed in shooting The injuries of 17 others are a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to sedition.

Nic Grzecka’s voice took on a weariness after speaking to The Associated Press on Wednesday night after Club Q was attacked on Saturday night.

Authorities have not revealed why the suspect opened fire at the club before submitting to patrons. they are accused of hate crimesSuspect Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, has not filed a petition or spoken out about the incident.

Grzetzka said the drag queen event was targeted in recent months as right-wing activists and politicians complained about the “sexualization” and “grooming” of children, and that the art form went wrong. He said he thinks it has something to do with being viewed. While general acceptance of the LGBTQ community is growing, this new dynamic fosters an atmosphere of danger.

“It’s not like you’re walking down the street holding your boyfriend’s hand and spitting on politicians who associate drag queens with their kids’ trimmers,” Grzecka said. “I’d rather be spat on the street than hate growing like today.”

Earlier this year, Florida’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill banning teachers from discussing gender identity and sexual orientation with younger students. A month later, references to “pedophile” and “grooming” associated with LGBTQ people increased by 400%, according to a Human Rights Campaign report.

“Lying about our community and making them not what they are creates a different kind of hate.

Grusetzka, who began mopping floors and bartending in 2003, a year after Club Q opened, channeled his grief and anger into rebuilding the support system for Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community that only Club Q provided. He said he wanted to focus on figuring out how to do it.

City and state officials have offered to help, and President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden reached out to Grzecka and co-owner Matthew Haynes on Thursday to offer their condolences and support to the community. reiterated his commitment to hatred and counterattack. gun violence.

Grzecka said Club Q opened after the closure of Colorado Springs’ only gay bar at the time. He described the era as the evolution of gay bars. Decades ago, dingy, hole-in-the-wall gay venues were primarily for finding hookups and dates. Transformed into a clean, smoke-free space to hang out with friends. Club Q was a pioneer in that transition.

Grzecka, who became co-owner in 2014, sees Club Q as more than just a nightlife venue, but a place to create “chosen families” for LGBTQ people, especially those who have been estranged from their biological families. It helped shape it as a platform. Drag queen bingo nights, Christmas dinners with friends, and birthday celebrations have become staples of Club Q 24/7.

With the community center that was Club Q demolished after the shooting, Grzecka and other community leaders said they channeled their grief and anger into rebuilding the support that only the place provided. I was.

Pikes Peak Pride organizer Justin Burn said: “Where are the people who may or may not have been part of the Club Q family going?”

Byrne said the shooting closed on a widespread shortage of resources for LGBTQ adults in Colorado Springs. Burn, Grzecka and others are working with national organizations to assess community needs and develop a blueprint for providing a robust support network.

Grzetzka aims to rebuild “a culture of love” and the support it needs to “make this tragedy the best it can be for the city.”

It all started on Thursday night when Club Q’s 10th Anniversary Gathering of Friends was held at the non-denominational Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church. Survivors, community members, friends and family shared a donated Thanksgiving meal under the lights and near the rainbow balloon tower.

Hosted by LGBTQ group United Court of Pikes Peak Empire, the upbeat atmosphere of the dinner felt resilience. People smiled, hugged and told stories of those who lost their lives from the podium.

“Everyone needs community,” says Grzecka.

Earlier in the day, at a memorial service, little by little people walked slowly along a wall of flowers and burnt-out memorial candles. Five white crosses were affixed, with wooden hearts engraved with the names of the deceased and scribbled notes by the mourners. “I hope you dance,” someone wrote on victim Ashley Poe’s wooden heart.

On the concrete wall reads: “Hear our call. Defend us, our home.”

Jesse Bedayn is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues.

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