On Club Q, Caretaking, and Community Contracts
By Megan Graham
CONTENT WARNING: Mass shootings, homophobia, transphobia
The first thing I did when I sat down to write this article was text my best friend: “I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said.” I lost track of how many mass shootings happened during my lifetime. As atrocious as it is, it becomes hard to tell them apart. We get the news alerts, watch in horror as injuries become a higher death toll, listen to politicians tell us that “the violence must stop,” learn the names of the victims when it’s too late to know them, and get more metal detectors instead of better gun laws.
For people in the LGBTQ+ community, the heft of the death toll carries the added burden of the hate that caused it. This shooting did not just happen in Colorado Springs, it happened at Club Q, an LGBTQ+ nightclub that one patron referred to as “a second home full of chosen family.” It is hard not to feel frightened and threatened by deadly attacks on gay clubs, especially in a time with homophobia on the rise and a wave of legislation that specifically attacks transgender children. Club Q had been planning to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday, November 20th. Instead an all-too-rare safe space for the LGBTQ+ community is closed until further notice.
Out of all of this, the piece that struck me the most was the fact that club patrons stopped the gunman before police arrived. One woman, Leia Arnold, said at a vigil that she saw a bartender jump in front of the shooter. Arnold said that the bartender died. Luckily, unlike at the Pulse nightclub shooting when police officers took hours to stop the gunman, this shooter was arrested within minutes of the first 9–1–1 call. However, it was still heroes in the community that prevented the shooter from doing more harm. Those people saved lives, and they deserve to be honored for their actions.
The fact that patrons stopped the gunman is also a chilling reminder of all the times that the LGBTQ+ community has been left to take care of itself. We’ve had too many opportunities to get good at it. Whether it’s forming care collectives during an AIDS crisis that the government allowed to get out of hand, providing housing, food, and chosen family to those who were rejected because of their identities, or protecting each other from those who want to kill us, we know how to help each other. But what we often have to do is more than a community taking care of itself. We have to protect ourselves and each other from people that want us to die.
Just for once, I want us to not be left on our own when violence comes to our community. In the United States, we are part of the LGBTQ+ community, but that’s not the only network we’re part of. We are part of a nation whose job, at least in theory, is to take care of its citizens. I don’t want us to be the ones who always have to stop the gunman or the disease or the terrible laws and lies and hatred. I want the politicians who claim to pray for us (many of whom have already Tweeted out their thoughts and prayers) to back up their prayers with action. To make it so that the next person who wishes harm on our community can’t access the weapons to do so. To focus more on the fact that 28% of LGBTQ+ youth have experienced homelessness or housing instability than the trans children who want to play sports.
I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said, because the LGBTQ+ community has been screaming about this for years. I just want some politicians to listen.
About the Author
Megan grew up in the suburbs of Massachusetts, where she came out as queer before arriving at college. She is currently in her last year of her degree program, where she studies history and literature. She loves running, reading, and The L Word.