Colorado Springs, Colo. – November 20, 2023
As the first anniversary of the tragic Club Q shooting approaches, the wounds of survivors remain raw, compounded by trauma, financial struggles, and a fractured community. The memorial, adorned with handwritten notes, stuffed animals, and flowers, still graces the rainbow facade of the now-closed Club Q, underscoring the enduring grief within the community.
Survivor AshtinGamblin shared her ongoing challenges, stating, “Everything’s been a healing process, but mainly just a lot of continuous battles.” The queer community in Colorado Springs remains divided over Club Q’s ownership goal to reopen the venue, once a safe haven for LGBTQ residents, now tainted by the memories of the deadly incident.
The rift deepened as survivors voiced concerns that the management team prioritizes profit over community healing.
Wyatt Kent, a drag performer and survivor, expressed the dissolving trust between former staffers and regulars at Club Q and the ownership team. Many survivors, including Kent, protested against the decision to reopen the club, fearing a revival would force them to relive the trauma.
Initially slated for reopening at the same location with an on-site memorial, Club Q’s management later announced a move to a new location, currently under construction at the Satellite Hotel, four miles away. Set to be named “the Q,” this decision has further fueled community discontent, with survivors emphasizing the need for spaces that uplift rather than exploit.
Michael Anderson, a former Club Q bartender and vice president of operations, acknowledged the community division but defended the reopening, rejecting claims of profiting off queer pain. Anderson asserted that the new venue aims to be a humble and inclusive space, welcoming everyone, even those who choose not to support it.
Complicating matters, survivors revealed issues with receiving donations intended for them. Approximately $3.25 million in donations through the Colorado Healing Fund faced criticism for its allocation plan, including administrative costs. Survivors reported delays and a lack of transparency in fund distribution, impacting their ability to cover medical bills.
This week, after a year of pushback, the Colorado Healing Fund announced the release of the remaining funds, around $120,000, for the 85 survivors. The fund clarified that it did not retain donated funds for administrative costs and acknowledged the need for immediate financial support.
Survivor AshtinGamblin, who sustained multiple gunshot wounds, expressed frustration over denied expenses, impacting her ability to heal. The complexities of fundraising issues and community divisions unfold against a backdrop of increasing hate speech and anti-LGBTQ legislation across the United States.
The Prism Community Collective emerges as an alternative, offering a brick-and-mortar LGBTQ community space in Colorado Springs. This initiative aims to provide gender-affirming care, legal aid, trauma resources, and a safe social space, offering solace to those who may not find it in the new Q space.
As the community grapples with the aftermath of the Club Q shooting, the Prism Community Collective embodies resilience and the power to create safe havens amid adversity.