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Twin Cities LGBTQ community left reeling from Club Q shooting

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The Twin Cities LGBTQ community is grappling with the impact of the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs last weekend.

A gunman opened fire, leaving 5 dead and 17 injured in one of the city’s few LGBTQ bars, an incident that some see as a result of an increase in anti-transgender rhetoric and legislation the last few years.

The tragedy has made folks in the community feel vulnerable, said OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Kat Rohn.

“It’s at a time when we’ve seen an uptick in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and where we’ve seen harassment and things like that within the community, that leaves people feeling very concerned about their safety and about their place in this world,” Rohn said.

A ramp-up in the volume of threats has been a particular concern, Rohn said.

Hundreds of bills and pieces of legislation that are anti-LGBTQ or anti-transgender have been filed in 2022, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Seven of those bills were introduced in Minnesota.

Online misinformation translates to violence or instances of intimidation, such as when the Proud Boys protested drag story hour in St. Paul, Rohn said, or other groups made hateful threats toward a Boston children’s hospital.

The Saloon in downtown Minneapolis is beefing up its security in response to the shooting. The decision was made to ensure the safety of patrons and to make sure they feel comfortable, said Katie Lindberg, assistant head of security at the Saloon.

“After the shooting we had some questions from regulars, they asked us what we are doing for their safety,” she said.

The bar has been a place of refuge for people since the shooting, where they can be with other people in the LGBTQ community, Lindberg said. The bar is hosting a fundraiser for Club Q from 7-10 p.m. on Dec. 17. Tips will go towards helping survivors.

Lindberg said patrons gathered at the Saloon as normal after the shooting: “People wanted to have their community, they wanted to have fun and remember why we’re here at the bar.”

In a statement on social media, Bobby Palmer, general manager of the Saloon, said staff at the downtown bar have a low tolerance for violence and they would take extra steps to make sure customers are safe.

“My heart breaks for the Colorado Springs queer community and the families of everyone who was injured or killed,” PaImer wrote on social media. “Also can’t possibly forget about the staff of Club Q who have had their home violated and their livelihoods put in jeopardy.”

The tragedy brings home the importance of taking care of one another, said Wes Burdine, owner of Black Hart of St. Paul.

“We are simultaneously heartbroken and angered by the Club Q attack,” Berdine said.

Rohn encouraged people to have difficult conversations over Thanksgiving weekend that can go a long way to foster empathy for the LGBTQ community.

“I think that’s individually where we can change hearts and minds around this issue,” Rohn said. “If you share those personal experiences and connections, that can help shape somebody’s perception of the community and maybe help to counter some of the hateful and biased rhetoric.”

To support the Club Q community, donations can be directed to the Colorado Healing Fund.

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