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Twin Cities LGBTQ community reeling from Club Q shooting

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

A gunman opened fire, killing 5 and injuring 17 at one of the city’s few LGBTQ bars, an incident some see as the result of increased anti-transgender rhetoric and legislation in recent times years.

The tragedy left members of the community vulnerable, said OutFront Minnesota general manager Kat Rohn.

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

A surge in threat volume has been a particular concern, Rohn said.

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

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

The downtown Minneapolis Saloon is tightening its security in response to the shooting. The decision was made to keep customers safe and to make sure they feel comfortable, said Katie Lindberg, deputy head of security at the Saloon.

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

The bar has been a place of refuge for people since the shooting, where they can be with others from the LGBTQ community, Lindberg said. The bar is hosting a fundraiser for Club Q from 7-10 p.m. on December 17. Tips will be used to help survivors.

Lindberg said patrons gathered at the Saloon as usual 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 will take extra steps to ensure customers are safe.

“My heart breaks for the queer community of Colorado Springs and the families of all who have been injured or killed,” PaImer wrote on social media. “Nor can I forget the staff at Club Q who saw their homes violated and their livelihoods endangered.”

The tragedy is a reminder of the importance of caring for each other, said Wes Burdine, owner of Black Hart of St. Paul.

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

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

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

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

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