Club Q: Violence in LGBTQIA+ Safe Spaces
On November 20, a gunman opened fire inside Club Q, an LGBTQIA+ bar in Colorado Springs, killing 5 and injuring 19. It happened while I was walking home from a night out with friends, one of whom used to bartend at Club Q. I woke to the news, which devastated the LGBTQIA+ community and ripped open the wounds left by countless mass shootings.
As a gay man living in the heart of Boystown in Chicago, I spend most of my time in queer spaces. That day, I looked around at my friends — checking in on each other, hugging extra tight, saying “I love you,” and finding joy during a difficult time — and couldn’t help but feel rage. Our love is beautiful. How could someone want to destroy it? Any of our spaces could have been violated, and any one of us could have been harmed.
In our tight-knit community, safe spaces allow us to feel comfortable in our own skin, free to celebrate parts of our identities that are often portrayed as dangerous to decent society. The patrons at Club Q went there to celebrate and feel safe. For queer people, bars have historically played that role, serving as safe social spaces, birthplaces of social movements, and sites of political action that won our freedoms. So when hatred trespasses in one of our bars, it challenges that history and sends a clear message to the whole community.
After hearing the news, I said to a friend, “It seems wrong to feel joy during such a hard time.” She replied, “Queer joy is a form of power and resistance. It means we refuse to be afraid, that hatred hasn’t won.”
At ion, we believe that everyone deserves a safe space, free from hatred. So we created a spark* conversation guide to support anyone who wants to facilitate a small group conversation on this topic. The guide encourages you to invite 2-3 people who are different from you to meet in person or by video call for about 60
minutes to listen to and be heard by others. Rather than debating or convincing others, you take turns sharing, learning, and being curious.
Use this spark* conversation guide, share it, and help combat the violent rhetoric that puts the queer community at risk.