LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Several Lexington LGBTQ+ advocates and leaders say they are shocked and disturbed after this weekend's deadly shooting at a Colorado Springs gay nightclub.
"No matter how much progress we seem to make, there's always people out there who want to keep kicking us back," Lexington Pride Festival Chair Jeremy Ellis said.
"It's worrying to think someone would want to do something like that," Crossings Lexington Co-Owner Rebecca Richter said.
"It was shocking but not surprising," Crossings Lexington Co-Owner Elysse Arrington said.
"We're a country of immigrants, a country of misfits, people that have been discriminated against," Ernesto Scorsone said. Scorsone is a retired circuit judge, former state senator, and LGBTQ+ advocate. "That's why they came to the United States; to be free of that. To see a group being targeted, in this case, the LGBTQ community, for an act of violence is so un-American, so tragic."
Scorsone, who was also the first openly gay member of the Kentucky General Assembly, believes rhetoric around the LGBTQ+ community in the past few years is partially to blame.
"I think a lot of it has to do with people in positions of power that are using their puppets and their positions to speak out against the LBGTQ community," Scorsone said. "I think it has given confidence to people who want to discriminate and, in this case, act violently against us."
Ellis said while he'll be hyper vigilant in the aftermath of the shooting, he will not stay home.
"We're not going to stop going out." Ellis said. "We're not going to stop being present in our queer spaces. It's going to cause us to be more visual and vocal and more adamant about getting ourselves out there."
That includes going places like downtown gay bar Crossings Lexington.
"We take pride in being a safe space for the Lexington community and we intend on remaining a safe space," Arrington, said.
Arrington and Richter said they'll do that by increasing security and talking with staff on other measures the bar can take to further prioritize safety.
Meanwhile, Scorsone said there's work to do. He said we all must realize there is still a tremendous amount of prejudice, misinformation and ignorance still in this country, and it needs to be addressed through education.
The Lexington Pride Center released the following statement in response to the shooting:
At the Lexington Pride Center we are angry and sad about the violence perpetrated against our LGBTQIA+ siblings at Club Q in Colorado Springs this weekend. Our hearts go out to all of the victims of this senseless tragedy and to their families and loved ones.
This incident is a heartbreaking reminder that in spite of how far we've come in the movement for LGBTQIA+ rights, we still have a lot of work to do. The risk of violence toward us for simply being who we are is something that far too many of us who are LGBTQIA+ still hold in our minds as we navigate the world. When one of our safe community spaces is violated, and our community is harmed, it impacts us all.
To put an end to violence toward the LGBTQIA+ community, we need more than thoughts and prayers. Anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation such as anti-trans bathroom bills and "don't say gay" initiatives perpetuate the idea that people in our communities don’t matter - that we are expendable.To stop this type of violence we need strong anti-discrimination and gun control legislation and leaders who will stand up against anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric. If people want to make a difference, they need to speak up and speak out privately and publicly against LGBTQIA+ discrimination in all its forms, whether it is violence, legislation, or even private comments or jokes.
For those looking to contribute financially to the victims of the Club Q attack, a special set-aside has been created at the Colorado Healing Fund that is being made available for the immediate needs of victims, survivors, and their families. When donating select “Club Q Tragedy” as your designation. You can find out more and contribute here: https://www.coloradogives.org/organization/COHealingFund.
At the Lexington Pride Center, we will continue the work we do to celebrate and empower the intersectional lives of LGBTQIA+ Kentuckians with renewed commitment and ferocity. We will hold up our community to grieve, to heal, to organize, to fight back, to protest, to celebrate, to connect, and to continue to live and love out loud. Anyone who is looking for support related to this recent act of violence toward the LGBTQIA+ community or with other issues can reach out to us at the Lexington Pride Center at (859) 253-3233 or email@example.com. Some of the free services we offer include:
● Support for victims of crime;
● Weekly support group for teens;
● Weekly support group for adults;
● Open drop in hours for affirming support and resources;
● A community education program for those who want to be more engaged allies.
All of our work is a movement toward a world free of violence, where all LGBTQIA+ people are safe to be who they are and love who they love.
Lexington Pride Center