Club Q felt like “home” until it was targeted in shooting

I could hear the missed phone calls.

The notifications of people sending texts.

But it was Sunday. It wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet. Why were people blowing up my phone?

The first message I read was from Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith: “Sending you so much love and solidarity from Orlando.”

I was confused. I knew Carlos. And knowing Carlos, when he references Orlando, my next immediate thought is Pulse. Pulse nightclub. The Pulse shooting. What?

As I try to make sense of what I’m reading, more and more texts come in. More and more missed phone calls.

“Are you okay?”  “Are you safe?” “OMG I just saw this. Answer my phone call.”

Texts and calls from across Colorado, the country, the world.

My friend from Washington, D.C.,  Arielle, was the first text I came across where things started to fall into place, as she included a link to a CNN article with the headline, “At least 5 people killed, 18 injured in a shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs.”

I leaped out of bed. Well, as much as a 40-year-old with bad knees can leap out of bed.

There is only one gay club in Colorado Springs. Club Q. I then realized folks were panicking because my last posts on social media were about the Air Force football game that I attended in the Springs.

Yes. I was safely tucked away when someone entered an LGBTQ space, with a gun, intent on hurting people. People I knew. People I didn’t know. A space that I had been to a half dozen times over the six years I’ve lived in Colorado.

From the first time I walked into Club Q, it felt like home.

No. Not the hateful, right-wing, religious home that my parents kicked me out of when I was 17 because I was queer. No. Not the physically and mentally abusive home that sheltered me through my youth.

It’s how I always imagined “home” should feel. Safe. Welcoming. Warm. Full of laughter. Joy. Happiness. Smiles. Hugs. A sense of community. People who weren’t trying to change who you were. People who didn’t vilify you. Target you. Want to kill you.

Coming into my queerness in Toledo, Ohio, we only had one inclusive bar, Caesars. Here in Denver and other large cities, the queer spaces are numerous. Gays. Lesbians. Sober folks. Folks who just want to dance. There is a place for you.

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