By Sara Wilson
Denverites packed a vigil on Monday night honoring the victims of the Club Q shooting as elected officials and faith leaders spoke about the need for action against gun violence and support for the LGBTQ community.
Saturday’s mass shooting at Club Q, a LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, left five people dead and at least 18 others injured.
The five deceased victims identified Monday were: Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Ashley Paugh and Raymond Green Vance.
“The beautiful people who lost their lives were our community. We are beautiful beings whose hearts beat together to create a song that will have rippling effects against this hatred. We will not allow these people to take us down.”
Nadine Bridges, One Colorado
“There are no words to describe the grief, anger and trauma that we are all experiencing,” said Nadine Bridges, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado (cover photo). “The beautiful people who lost their lives were our community. We are beautiful beings whose hearts beat together to create a song that will have rippling effects against this hatred. We will not allow these people to take us down.”
The vigil, held at the ReelWorks event venue in Denver, Colorado, had over 1,000 people in attendance, with the neighboring LGBTQ club Tracks also full as an overflow space. Ahead of the event, the line to enter wrapped around the entire block as community members and allies waited to pay respects. Outside, members of Parasol Patrol welcomed attendees with their bright umbrellas. Inside, people from Free Mom Hugs offered comfort and embraces.
The shooting occurred amid an uptick of violence and harassment against LGBTQ people by right-wing extremists and against the backdrop of increasing homophobic and transphobic rhetoric by conservative politicians, including Colorado Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert and former gubernatorial candidate Republican Heidi Ganahl. Conservative politicians have disparaged events like drag queen story hours and have harshly criticized transgender women who compete in women’s sports and use women’s bathrooms.
Several of the victims of the shooting have been identified by family and friends as members of the LGBTQ community.
“Our community is under attack from politicians that spew vile lies to folks that believe them and act on their hatred. How dare they try to harm our transgender and non-binary youth for their own political gain and power? Are we going to allow that to happen anymore?” Bridges asked, to a resounding “No” from the audience. She called for sensible gun laws and behavioral health reform.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat who represents Denver, also spoke about the need for “common sense” gun legislation and enforcement of current red flag laws. She appeared with Democratic Rep. Jason Crow.
“Every time we would have a moment like this, where we were down, where it was bad, [U.S. Rep] John Lewis would call us together and he would get up and he would say ‘never give up and never give in’ and my friends that is going to be our mantra tonight,” said Rep. DeGette.
“We’re never going to give up and we’re never going to give in until we make sure someone can’t just walk into a nightclub and shoot 20 or 25 people in about a five-minute period,” she said.
While some of the speeches on Monday were political, most were about uplifting the LGBTQ community, denouncing hate and holding people accountable in the face of anti-LGBTQ expression.
“I am angry at those who normalize hate and those who are culpable. When you make jokes, or you belittle people or you use slurs to describe people, you normalize it and are culpable. And if you don’t call out the people that are making those jokes, the ones that call people those names, then you are normalizing hate and you are culpable,” said Scott Levin, the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Mountain States Region.
The vigil was organized by One Colorado and the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and also included remarks from faith leaders, including Rabbis Emily Hyatt and Caryn Aviv, one of the few out lesbian rabbis in the state.
“We’re also here to support one another as a community and stand up for a vision of a different world,” Aviv said.
The two spoke about Judaism’s belief that every person is created in the likeness of God, no matter their identity.
“That means everyone,” they said. “Every single one of us is created in the divine image. That means all drag queens. That means all trans kids. That means all queer elders, all non-binary people. It means all of us.”
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, appeared virtually.
“The investigation (into the shooting) leaves a lot of questions unanswered, and I hate to say it, but as with a lot of these events, we won’t get satisfaction with the answers we receive, because there is no satisfaction in this tragedy,” he said. “There is no rationalizing of this absolute act of evil, this act of horror that was imposed upon the entire community.”
Sara Wilson is a reporter with Colorado Newsline. This article is republished from Colorado Newsline under a Creative Commons license.
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