The local LGBTQ community is in mourning following the weekend attack at a gay bar in Colorado Springs.
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, at least five people were killed and dozens more were injured in a late-night shooting.
According to its website, the targeted bar, Club Q, was holding its weekly drag show.
Club Q released a statement to ABC News saying, “Club Q is in shock and in deep mourning, with the family and friends who had loved ones senselessly taken from them. We condemn the horrific violence that shattered an evening of celebration for all in the LGBTQ community of Colorado Springs and our allies.”
There has not yet been any mention of an alleged motive. A hate crime investigation is ongoing regarding the shooting.
The executive director of the LGBTQ advocacy group One Colorado, Nadine Bridges, said, “There are no words that can undo the horror that continues to destroy our communities.
“Gun violence, mass shootings, and the general disregard for our human condition continue to turn our safe spaces into places of grief, trauma, and sorrow,” she continued. No more lives should be lost or taken. Everyone should feel safe celebrating and living their authentic lives in public.
The tragedy occurs as a string of Republican-led legislative initiatives to limit LGBTQ rights and health care are being introduced. 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.”
Republicans have also attacked the LGBTQ community by making up allegations of “pedophilia.”
Colorado has experienced its fair share of anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric from local leaders. Rep. Lauren Boebert, for example, has introduced a bill that would forbid the use of tax funds for research into gender affirming healthcare.
LGBTQ organizations are urging local, state, and federal lawmakers to “take swift, exacting action to ensure public safety,” according to Bridges, and to “go beyond statements and condolences.”
In recent months, there have been numerous incidents of violence against LGBTQ people across the nation, including bomb threats against Boston Children’s Hospital, which provides care that is gender-affirming, and an alleged white nationalist riot plot at a Pride parade in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
“There is a phrase for this. The term for it is stochastic terrorism. And it’s a known fact that as hate speech against a group increases, hateful acts inevitably follow,” according to Kevin Jennings, CEO of the LGBTQ legal advocacy group Lambda Legal, who spoke to ABC News.
“There will no doubt be prayers and thoughts that have no real purpose. Sincerely, I just ask that you continue to keep those people in your prayers and thoughts. Take some significant action,” he continued. Local organizations assert that despite the overwhelming emotions of fear, confusion, and grief, the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs does not choose to remain hidden.
“The board of directors for PFLAG Colorado Springs issued a statement to ABC News stating that the lives of loved ones and their wholeness had been violently taken. “When powerful voices incite hatred and fear, we run the risk of losing kindness and losing sight of our humanity. That is not as strong as our love.”
The Colorado Healing Fund, a nonprofit organization established to provide a safe means 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 as the neighborhood works to heal.