The attack at a gay bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, over the weekend has left the local LGBTQ community grieving.
At least five people were killed and dozens were injured in a late night shooting on Nov. 19, the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, which honors the memory of the lives of transgender people who were victims of discriminatory violence.
The targeted bar, Club Q, was hosting its weekly drag show, according to its website.
Club Q is in shock, and in deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them,” the club said in a statement sent to ABC News. “We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies.”
The suspect is facing five counts of murder and five counts of bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury.
There are no words that will undo the horror that continues to devastate our communities,” said Nadine Bridges, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado.
She continued, “Our safe spaces continue to become places of grief, trauma, and sorrow due to gun violence, mass shootings, and the general disrespect for our human condition. Not one more life should be taken or lost. No one should feel unsafe to celebrate or live authentically in public.”
The tragedy comes amid a wave of Republican-led legislative efforts to restrict LGBTQ rights and health care. More than 300 bills and policies have been introduced in the last year to ban gender-affirming trans health care and LGBTQ content in schools.
This is what happens when vitriol against us is left unchecked, when LGBTQ+ people are slowly being legislated out of existence, and everyone from legislators to hate groups to social media users use the same vile talking points about us, every day. This is what happens,” PFLAG National, an LGBTQ advocacy group, told ABC News in a statement. “Book bans; Don’t say gay; Violent protests at Pride; Bans on care for trans kids; Hundreds of pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation; It always leads to this.”
Some Republicans have also used false “pedophilia” claims to attack the LGBTQ community.
Colorado has seen its own share of anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric from local leaders, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, who has introduced a bill to prohibit tax dollars from being used on research concerning gender affirming care.
LGBTQ groups are calling on local, state and federal lawmakers to “go beyond statements and condolences and take swift, exacting action to ensure public safety,” Bridges said.
Acts or threats of violence against the LGBTQ have been seen across the country in recent months – including bomb threats toward Boston Children’s Hospital, which offers gender-affirming care, an alleged riot plot from white nationalists at a Pride parade in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and more.
There’s actually a term for this. It’s called stochastic terrorism. And this is a documented phenomenon where when levels of hateful rhetoric towards a community rises, that it’s followed inevitably by levels of hateful actions,” Kevin Jennings, CEO of LGBTQ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, told ABC News.
“I’m sure there will be meaningless expressions of thoughts and prayers. And frankly, my message to those people is just: please keep your thoughts and prayers. Take some meaningful action,” he added.
Though fear, confusion and grief weigh heavy on the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs, local groups say they refuse to hide.
Loved ones’ lives and their wholeness were violently taken,” PFLAG Colorado Springs board of directors said in a statement to ABC News. “When voices of influence spread fear and hate, the risk is the loss of kindness and the loss of our humanity. Our love is stronger than that.”
As the community tries to heal, the Colorado Healing Fund, a nonprofit founded to establish a secure way for people to donate to victims of mass casualty crimes in the state, will be collecting donations for survivors and families of victims of the tragedy.
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