On Nov. 19, as people around the country prepared to honor the lives of their friends and loved ones for Transgender Day of Remembrance, those in Colorado Springs, Colorado were united in community. Many were doing so amid loud music and flashing lights at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q, but the weekend, already bursting with exaltations of life and moments of deep mourning, was met with violence. A gunman opened fire in the club, killing five people and injuring 25 others before being subdued by other patrons — one more in a long list of American mass shootings and a startling callback to the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
It was also a ricocheting blow to LGBTQ Americans young and old, after a year of legislative attacks on transgender youth and LGBTQ inclusive curriculum and several devastating mass shootings that signal an escalating national gun crisis.
“There are no words that will undo the horror that continues to devastate our communities,” wrote Nadine Bridges, executive director of Colorado-based LGBTQ advocacy organization One Colorado. “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.”
Many, understandably, are turning to the internet for support, and are looking for ways to stand in solidarity.
Club Q shooting: How to help survivors, families
In response, GoFundMe has created a hub of verified fundraisers to support the Colorado Springs LGBTQ community and those directly affected by the act of violence.
The largest of these campaigns, “Support for the Club Q Families and Survivors”, has already reached more than $450,000 of its $750,000 to cover the funeral and medical expenses of Club Q patrons. Los Angeles-based arts nonprofit Classroom of Compassion is also hosting a verified fundraiser to gather funds for public memorials to be built in Colorado Springs to honor the five victims.
The hub is overseen by GoFundMe’s Trust & Safety team and will be updated.
In addition to the GoFundMe hub, advocates (including GLAAD) announced the reactivation of the Colorado Healing Fund, which was founded in 2018 by victim advocates and community leaders to support those impacted by what they call “mass cruelty crimes” in the state of Colorado. The fund is open once again to collect funds for victims of the Club Q shooting in partnership with on the ground organizations.
“We mourn with the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs for the lives taken and those wounded in this act of hate,” wrote Kevin Jennings, CEO of LGBTQ civil rights organization Lambda Legal. “America’s toxic mix of bigotry and absurdly easy access to firearms means that such events are all too common and LGBTQ+ people, BIPOC communities, the Jewish community, and other vulnerable populations pay the price again and again for our political leadership’s failure to act.”
According to the FBI’s 2020 Hate Crime Statistics, which is based on reports from national law enforcement, 20 percent of reported attacks were motivated by anti-LGBTQ bias.
In 2022, far right groups, many armed, have tried to intimidate attendees at LGBTQ events around the country, including an Idaho Pride event and Drag Queen Storytime in Alameda, California. The Human Rights Campaign has remarked on an “epidemic of violence” against transgender and gender nonconforming people in the United States, with 32 fatal attacks in 2022 alone.
At the same time, rates of gun violence have been increasing. Advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety reported that the rate of gun deaths in Colorado increased 41 percent from 2011 to 2020, compared to a 33 percent increase nationwide.
“When ignorance is weaponized to become hate, people suffer. When hate-filled people are without communities that love and support their ability to celebrate diversity, embrace democracy, and prioritize mental wellness, they can cause harm—to themselves and others,” wrote David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, in a statement to the press. “We’ve seen this before, and sadly, it will continue to happen until we collectively do better.”