Bay Area LGBTQ advocates say Colorado Springs nightclub shooting likely fueled by anti-gay rhetoric

ByTara Campbell and Cornell Barnard via KGO logo
Monday, November 21, 2022
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A solemn sound came from the San Francisco Men's Gay Chorus Sunday night at a vigil honoring the victims from the deadly shooting.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area woke up on Sunday to news of the tragic shooting in Colorado, and it was triggering to many in the the LGBTQ+ community who have witnessed other shootings targeting at them nationally.

"Obviously, my heart goes out to the victims who were injured, the entire Colorado Springs -- a horrific tragedy," said State Senator Scott Wiener.

Wiener says his LGBTQ+ community is mourning lives lost at Club Q in Colorado Springs. He says the massacre is sadly no surprise to him.

"Words and rhetoric have consequences," said Wiener.

VIDEO: Advocates say Colorado shooting likely fueled by anti-gay rhetoric

Wiener believes the nightclub shooting may be a product of increased anti-LGBTQ laws and sentiments across the country.

"Our community is being targeted. We're being targeted politically with threats and harassment online, which sometimes spills over into violence, and it has to stop," he said.

"My heart breaks for Colorado Springs, just like it did for my native Orlando," said Christopher Vasquez, Castro LGBTQ advocate.

Vasquez said the shooting instantly took him back to Orlando's Pulse nightclub, where a gunman killed 49 people in 2016.

VIDEO: Club Q shooting: 2 victims ID'd after gunman kills 5 at LGBTQ nightclub, injures dozens more

"I think we should've learned from from Pulse that words matter, people are going target LGBTQ people, right now we're under a lot of duress. I was actually working the door at a club last night when I got a notification about it. It was triggering knowing it could happen at any LGBTQ club," Vasquez said.

"Your heart drops, again," said Patrick Bowers.

Bowers has been pouring drinks at Moby Dick bar in the Castro for 20 years.

"It gets busy some nights. You can't see everyone who walks in the door," Bowers said.

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He knows violence can happen anywhere at any time.

"Until we get our arms around mental health issues and guns in this country, it's going to be a reality," Bowers said.

Moby Dick and other Castro bars are reviewing its security measures.

A solemn sound came from the San Francisco Men's Gay Chorus Sunday night at a vigil honoring the victims from the deadly shooting.

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"It's devastating, but we are not going anywhere, we will be around, we will get through this and comeback," said San Francisco resident, Chris Stevenson.

"If we don't bear witness to the tragedy that happened -- if we stay in our beds and ignore it -- it's going to continue and continue," said Tom Ammiano, who formerly served as a California assemblymember and San Francisco supervisor.

Ammiano gathered among many at a vigil in the heart of the Castro District at Harvey Milk Plaza.

"It's not lost on a lot of people that this is the month of the executions of our Mayor and Harvey Milk," said Ammiano. "Connecting the dots today, we don't see the change that we really wanted. We see the bigotry and the hatred."

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"I've been to this plaza too many times for this same reason. The fact that I'm here again is just like," said Carly McCarthy. "I wish it was for a celebration of more queer rights not for more violence against my community."

Five people were gunned down and killed at Club Q in Colorado Springs on the eve of Transgender Remembrance Day. Sunday afternoon, on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, the community gathered to honor the trans lives lost this year.

"This day is always a sad day in our community, so I was already prepared to have a rough day, but to find that out -- it wants to make you hopeless, but it's not, it's not," said Suzanne Ford, interim executive director of San Francisco Pride.

"That's the job of this city and our organization: to let people know it's not hopeless. You can grow up and be who you are you can love who you want," Ford said.

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"It's scary. It's gut wrenching. It's tragic, and I really hope folks woke to recognize our fight is not over," said Anjali Rimi, calling the shooting a call to action.

"The LGBTQ community in this country has been under attack and hate is not something that is born hate is what we grow and we need to stop this abhorrent homophobia and transphobia in this country," Rimi continued.

"When you hear someone say something negative about LGBTQ people and you don't say something then you're part of what happened and I'm going to call that out," Ford said. "Every time I do one of these interviews, I'm going to call that out. It starts with hate that we allow to happen."

When asked if they would increase patrols around San Francisco's Castro district in wake of the Colorado mass shooting, SFPD sent out this statement:

"The San Francisco Police Department is aware of the incident which occurred in Colorado Springs. We are in constant communication with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of everyone in the City of San Francisco. There are no known credible threats to the City. That being said, law enforcement relies on cooperation and assistance from the public to report criminal activity. If You See Something, Say Something! Call 911. Report suspicious activity or items."

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