As the LGBTQ+ community continues to mourn the loss of the five people killed in last weekend’s mass shooting, focus is now shifting to a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to incitement according to Nic Grzecka, a co-owner of Club Q.
In an interview with the Associated Press, one of his first since the chaos of the aftermath created by the mass-shooting, Grzecka said he believes the targeting of a drag queen event is connected to the art form being cast in a false light in recent months by right-wing activists and politicians who complain about the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children.
Even though general acceptance of the LGBTQ community has grown, this new dynamic has fostered a dangerous climate, he said.
“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend’s hand and getting spit at (as opposed to) a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children,” Grzecka said. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden spending the Thanksgiving holiday with the First Lady and family members in Nantucket, Massachusetts, called Grzecka and Club Q co-owner Matthew Haynes.
The President and the First Lady offered condolences and reiterated their support for the community as well as their commitment to fighting back against hate and gun violence. They also thanked the two men for the ‘incredible contributions they have made and will continue to make to Colorado Springs.’
The president told reporters enroute to Nantucket, reflecting on the mass-shooting at the LGBTQ+ club and then another mass-shooting Tuesday, at a Wal-Mart store when a night manager opened fire in a breakroom in Chesapeake, Va., killing six, and wounding at least half a dozen more, said he has plans to support a bill banning assault rifles during the lame-duck session before the next Congress is seated in January.
“I’m going to do it whenever — I got to make that assessment as I get in and start counting the votes,” Biden said
As the memorial outside Club Q grows, more attention is now being focused on the needs of the survivors and others in the LGBTQ + community in Colorado Springs affected by the mass-shooting.
An annual ‘Friendsgiving’ feast for the members of the LGBTQ+ community unable to spend time with relatives because of their being LGBTQ+ and which was normally held by the owners and staff of Club Q was shifted to a community dinner at the Colorado Springs MCC Church.
In an Instagram post, earlier in the week, Grzecka thanked Colorado Governor Jared Polis, state Attorney General Phil Weiser, Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez and city councilmember Nancy Henjum whose district the LGBTQ+ club is located, “for your hard work to ensure there was a Crisis Center to service the Club Q and Colorado Springs community during the holiday.”
Fallout over the shooting continues as anger mounts at what many in the LGBTQ+ community see as targeted hate amplified by a resurgence of anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech online and by right-wing media outlets and far-right figures such as Fox host Tucker Carlson.
Colorado Springs is also home to Focus on the Family, one of the largest anti-LGBTQ+ groups in the United States. The Christian ministry group has opposed same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ service in any branch of the U.S. armed forces and continues to advocate for the discredited practise of conversion therapy.
Late Thursday person or persons unknown vandalized the sign at the main entrance to the group’s headquarters complex. “We went out there to investigate if there was a crime that took place,” Colorado Springs Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jason Ledbetter told the Gazette regarding the overnight incident. “There is no suspect information at this time.”
In a Instagram post, Club Q owner Grzecka displayed a picture of the vandalized sign with graffiti spray painted in black reading; “Their blood is on your hands five lives taken.”
In his message accompanying the picture, Grzecka noted:
Focus on the Family moved to our city in the 90’s, was a large group behind pushing through amendment 2 along with Colorado for family matters. People such as Dr. James Dobson and Will Perkins have spread a nasty, false and hurtful narrative about our LGBT community.
Amendment 2 was passed in 1992, and Colorado Springs ( El Paso county) were the votes to pass the amendment, the same amendment that gave our city the nickname “hate city USA”
Words have consequences and your continuous false narrative about the lgbt community has consequences, @focusonthefamily this message added to your sign has more truth to it than you may actually be able to understand.
This is not vandalism this is not an attack on Christian’s. This message is just that a message that was delivered in a way to ensure you receive it.
@cityofcos, Mayor Suthers when can we meet to discuss how this type of Anti Gay speech, is coming from our own backyard.
The Gazette also reported that people from around the nation are holding in-person and online fundraisers for victims and families of the Club Q mass shooting.
While the state has an official online donation site, the Colorado Healing Fund, a private online drive, also has become one of the largest appeals.
Good Judy Garage in Denver, an LGBTQ business, raised $25,000 in two hours after starting a GoFundMe drive on Sunday. The initial goal was upped to $50,000 and now is at $750,000, as donations continue to pour in. As of Friday, the amount collected was $761,707 raised.
Story courtesy of the Washington Blade via the National LGBTQ Media Association. The National LGBTQ Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: nationallgbtmediaassociation.com/