Colorado Springs Shooting
Co-owners of Club Q, Matthew Haynes, front, and Nic Grzecka, address the crowd after a 25-foot historic pride flag was displayed on the exterior of City Hall to mark the weekend mass shooting at the gay nightclub Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. The flag, known as Section 93 of the Sea to Sea Flag, is on loan for two weeks to Colorado Springs from the Sacred Cloth Project. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Gay club owner: Shooting comes amid a new 'type of hate'

14 Comments
By JESSE BEDAYN

The co-owner of the Colorado Springs gay nightclub where a shooter turned a drag queen’s birthday celebration into a massacre said he thinks the shooting that killed five people and injured 17 others is a reflection of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has evolved from prejudice to incitement.

Nic Grzecka’s voice was tinged with exhaustion as he spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday night in some of his first comments since Saturday night's attack at Club Q, a venue Grzecka helped build into an enclave that sustained the LGBTQ community in conservative-leaning Colorado Springs.

Authorities haven’t said why the suspect opened fired at the club before being subdued into submission by patrons, but they are facing hate crime charges. The suspect, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, has not entered a plea or spoken about the incident.

Grzecka said he believes the targeting of a drag queen event is connected to the art form being cast in a false light in recent months by right-wing activists and politicians who complain about the “sexualization” or “grooming” of children. Even though general acceptance of the LGBTQ community has grown, this new dynamic has fostered a dangerous climate.

“It’s different to walk down the street holding my boyfriend's hand and getting spit at (as opposed to) a politician relating a drag queen to a groomer of their children," Grzecka said. “I would rather be spit on in the street than the hate get as bad as where we are today."

Earlier this year, Florida's Republican-dominated legislature passed a bill barring teachers from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with younger students. A month later, references to “pedophiles” and “grooming” in relation to LGBTQ people rose 400%, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign.

“Lying about our community, and making them into something they are not, creates a different type of hate,” said Grzecka.

Grzecka, who started mopping floors and bartending at Club Q in 2003 a year after it opened, said he hopes to channel his grief and anger into figuring out how to rebuild the support system for Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community that only Club Q had provided.

City and state officials have offered support and President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden reached out to Grzecka and co-owner Matthew Haynes on Thursday to offer condolences and reiterate their support for the community as well as their commitment to fighting back against hate and gun violence.

Grzecka said Club Q opened after the only other gay bar in Colorado Springs at that time shuttered. He described that era as an evolution of gay bars. Decades ago, dingy, hole-in-the-wall gay venues were meant largely for finding a hookup or date, said Grzecka. But he said once the internet offered anonymous ways to find love online, the bars transitioned into well lit, clean non-smoking spaces to hang out with friends. Club Q was at the vanguard of that transition.

Once he became co-owner in 2014, Grzecka helped mold Club Q into not merely a nightlife venue but a community center – a platform to create a “chosen family” for LGBTQ people, especially for those estranged from their birth family. Drag queen bingo nights, friendsgiving and Christmas dinners, birthday celebrations became staples of Club Q which was open 365 days a year.

In the aftermath of the shooting, with that community center having been torn away, Grzecka and other community leaders said they are channeling grief and anger into reconstituting the support structure that only Club Q had offered.

“When that system goes away, you realize how much more the bar was really providing,” said Justin Burn, an organizer with Pikes Peak Pride. “Those that may or may not have been a part of the Club Q family, where do they go?”

Burn said the shooting pulled back a curtain on a broader lack of resources for LGBTQ adults in Colorado Springs. Burn, Grzecka and others are working with national organizations to do an assessment of the community's need as they develop a blueprint to offer a robust support network.

Grzecka is looking to rebuild the “loving culture” and necessary support to “make sure that this tragedy is turned into the best thing it can be for the city."

“Everybody needs community,” he said.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.


14 Comments

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There is one political party that is responsible for this new(er) wave of homophobia. It equates homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and beastiality.

It attempts to enshrine discrimination against homosexuals on the basis of “religious freedom” (As a thought example, let’s imagine the reaction of most people if someone wanted to discriminate based on race, religious affiliation or left-handedness) to give the thin veneer or respectability to its hate.

And it now floods the public space its accusations of “grooming” against anyone who might empathize with adolescents struggling with sexual identity or advocating an age-appropriate discussion of gender and sexuality.

the GQP is responsible for the environment in which hate-based mass shootings occur because it has consciously NOT reprimanded prominent members who use these rhetorical tactics in order to energize the party’s extremist base.

It’s a feature, not a bug of the party the Republicans have become.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It turns out that the shooter identifies as non-binary, according to court filings by his defense attorneys.

Sorry, progressives. Your narrative is already beginning to crumble.

So is your chance to exploit the deaths of people who (a) you claim to care about, but (b) really don't care about, in order to demonize and denigrate conservatives who oppose the LGBT agenda.

Opposing the LGBT agenda is not the same thing as wanting to see LGBT people murdered -- and only a bunch of demonic goblins bent on exploiting tragedy to advance their ideological agenda would think it is.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

It turns out that the shooter identifies as non-binary, according to court filings by his defense attorneys.

Sorry, progressives. Your narrative is already beginning to crumble.

Not necessarily. The shooter may have been emotionally conflicted and made more so by the hateful and misleading rhetoric peddled by "conservative" media.

There's a lot of anti LGBTQ sentiment out there. That's a fact.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not necessarily. The shooter may have been emotionally conflicted and made more so by the hateful and misleading rhetoric peddled by "conservative" media.

Yep, the fact that this shooter identifies as non-binary does nothing to deflect from the hate directed at the group in general and that this kid, who's dad was a violent homophobe experienced in particular. It might, MIGHT have driven him to this.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

There is one political party that is responsible for this new(er) wave of homophobia. It equates homosexuality with incest, pedophilia and beastiality. 

No, the only person and party responsible for what happened is the individual that took the lives of these people.

It attempts to enshrine discrimination against homosexuals on the basis of “religious freedom” (As a thought example, let’s imagine the reaction of most people if someone wanted to discriminate based on race, religious affiliation or left-handedness) to give the thin veneer or respectability to its hate. 

I think you have been watching too many lib shows, to even try and pin this on conservatives is just delusional, if anything no one beats the racist drum or exhausts the conversation of race and more than liberals. The forceful woke agenda didn’t start with conservatives.

And it now floods the public space its accusations of “grooming”

Which is very true.

against anyone who might empathize with adolescents struggling with sexual identity or advocating an age-appropriate discussion of gender and sexuality. 

The left doesn’t want to discuss the issue, it’s either society accepts them and everything they say or do without question or you’re a racist or homophobic

the GQP is responsible for the environment in which hate-based mass shootings occur because it has consciously NOT reprimanded prominent members who use these rhetorical tactics in order to energize the party’s extremist base. 

They are absolutely not responsible, what they are responsible for, is to make sure that our children grow up without being force-fed sexual propaganda without our consent, and the fact that so many teachers try to either groom or impose sexually explicit books for our kids to read is unacceptable and will not be tolerated and think goodness of parents are pushing back, this has nothing to do again with the situation, or with what does individual has done, you’re making excusesFor woke behavior that we just have to face value accept without question.

It’s a feature, not a bug of the party the Republicans have become.

Yes, the party of family values

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Being gay is not a crime a mental issue or a moral failing.

And your party, attempts to equate discussion of sexuality with grooming, which it isn't unless it is in the fever dream of your cult.

So the law, modern psychology and every established Christian Church says that you are wrong. I will defer to them.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

bass4funk

They are absolutely not responsible, what they are responsible for, is to make sure that our children grow up without being force-fed sexual propaganda without our consent

Sure. But that's not happening.

and the fact that so many teachers try to either groom or impose sexually explicit books for our kids to read is unacceptable and will not be tolerated

Also, not happening. And also, why do the right try to associate grooming with gay or trans people? As if there is some kind of link?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Being gay is not a crime a mental issue or a moral failing. 

No one said it is, relax.

And your party, attempts to equate discussion of sexuality with grooming,

Nope, that would be the left in trying to force down parents throats that their kids have to accept alternative lifestyles or else. This is why even liberal Democrats voted for a Republican like Youngkin to stop this nonsense. Leave the kids alone until they’re old enough to understand who they are sexually first without pushing or grooming them.

So the law, modern psychology and every established Christian Church says that you are wrong. I will defer to them.

How I raise my kids is not the schools business.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Sure. But that's not happening.

on the contrary, that is exactly what is, and that’s is why you are seeing so much pushback from parents across the country.

And also, why do the right try to associate grooming with gay or trans people?

Because that is what is happening across so many schools, you can deny it all you want, try and convince the other millions of parents that want this stopped. Again, there is a reason why the Dems lost the House, the voters sent a clear message, quit it!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There is zero evidence that being homosexual or transgender makes one more likely to engage in pedophelia. In fact the very fact that the Trump cult is raging about it makes me wonder if its supporters have something to hide.

What this really is about is about fear and hate and how fear and hate of homosexuals is being utilized by one party, the GQP to mobilize their low-information base. That is what this is about.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The father of the killer, himself a porn actor, was only too happy when he learned his son wasn't gay. That was his only concern.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There is zero evidence that being homosexual or transgender makes one more likely to engage in pedophelia.

then what is the effort in trying to force it on the masses?

In fact the very fact that the Trump cult is raging *

Not the Trump people, talk to the Democrats in WV that vote overwhelmingly Democrat, they feel the same, there just destroyed your argument.

What this really is about is about fear and hate

Again, then why so many liberals in many blue states feel the same as conservative parents? Second bomb attempt.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

bass4funk

Do you oppose the LGBTQ community?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Do you oppose the LGBTQ community?

No

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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