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The LGBTQ community in Twin Cities has been reeling from the Club Q shootings

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

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

The tragedy has left people in the LGBTQ community across the country feeling vulnerable, said OutFront Minnesota executive director Kat Rohn.

Hundreds of anti-LGBTQ or anti-transgender laws were introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2022, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Seven of these bills were introduced in Minnesota.

The Club Q shooting came “at a time when we’ve seen a rise in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and harassment,” Rohn said. “As a result, people are very concerned about their safety and their place in this world.”

Online misinformation leads to violence or instances of intimidation, such as when the Proud Boys protested a drag queen story lesson at a St. Paul library, Rohn said, and other groups made hateful threats against a Boston children’s hospital that is turning itself caring for transgender children.

Downtown Minneapolis saloon is stepping up security in response to the shooting. The decision was made to keep guests safe and to ensure they were comfortable, said Katie Lindberg, deputy chief of security at the saloon.

“After filming, we had a few questions from regulars,” she said. “They asked us what we do for their safety.”

The bar has been a haven for people since the shooting, a supportive place to be with other people in the LGBTQ community, Lindberg said. The bar is hosting a Club Q fundraiser on December 17 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. where tips will go to the survivors of the shooting.

In a statement on social media, Saloon general manager Bobby Palmer said staff at the downtown bar have a low tolerance for violence and are taking extra steps to keep customers safe.

“My heart breaks for the queer community of Colorado Springs and the families of everyone who has been hurt or killed,” PaImer wrote on social media. “Neither can I forget the Club Q employees whose homes were raped and whose livelihoods were put on the line.”

The tragedy underscores the importance of looking out for one another, said Wes Burdine, owner of Black Hart of St. Paul, a club that doubles as a soccer club and gay bar.

“We are simultaneously heartbroken and upset by the attack on Club Q,” Burdine said.

Rohn encouraged people to have difficult conversations with family about the shooting over Thanksgiving weekend, which can do a lot to foster empathy for the LGBTQ community.

“I think that’s where we can individually change hearts and minds on this issue,” Rohn said. “Sharing those personal experiences and connections can help shape the community’s perception of someone and perhaps help counteract the hateful and biased rhetoric.”

Instead of staying home in fear, guests gathered in the saloon as usual after last weekend’s Club Q shooting, Lindberg said. “People wanted their community, they wanted to have fun and remember why we’re here at the bar.”

To support the Club Q community, donations can be made to the Colorado Healing Fund: https://www.coloradotives.org/story/Clubq.

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