Colorado Springs, Colorado. (AP) – After last November’s mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs that turned a drag queen’s birthday celebration into a massacre, the conservative community was forced to… In anticipation of its reputation Because it is unwelcoming to gays, lesbians and transgender people.
The motive behind the shooting, who did not grow up in Colorado Springs and is now serving a life sentence, may never be known. But since the attack that killed five people, injured 17 others, and shattered the sense of security at the Q Club,… It served as a refuge For the city’s LGBTQ+ community, Colorado Springs has taken steps to reshape itself to become inclusive and welcoming.
A new LGBTQ+ resource center is set to open in the city, where an independent candidate surprisingly defeated a longtime Republican incumbent to become the first Black mayor in the city of about 480,000 people. The owners of Club Q, which has been closed since the November 19, 2022, attack, plan to build a memorial and reopen it in a new location under the new brand The Q.
Mayor Yemi Mobolade, a West African immigrant who has become older since June, said on Friday that he knows “what it feels like to be on the outside and looked down upon in the minority. Now, to be mayor of this great city, I bring that compassion to office.” Mayor.
Mobolad said he has created a three-person community affairs office with one person focused on “being very inclusive of minority communities, including the LGBTQ+ community.”
However, as the city prepares to gather Sunday to mark the anniversary of the shooting, some advocates for the LGBTQ+ community say work remains.
“It feels like there’s some real fear in the community, and then it also seems like those who are opposed to gay rights and gay people living their lives are still entrenched in those positions and are making more political efforts to see those positions advance.” said Candace Woods, a gay pastor and minister who has called Colorado Springs home for nearly two decades.
Additional security measures are planned for memorial events in case anti-LGBT activists gather to protest, as they did at Pride events this summer. Candidates supported by The conservative group Mothers for FreedomWoods noted that the Public School Association, which opposes teaching about systemic racism and gender identity in classrooms, won the recent school board election.
Colorado Springs, located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and home to the Air Force Academy and several conservative megachurches, has historically been conservative. However, the city also has a growing and diverse population that is expected to surpass Denver by 2050, is home to a liberal arts college and has marketed itself as an outdoor boomtown.
On the night of the attack, Anderson Lee Aldrich entered the Kew Club and began shooting randomly. Clubgoers dive across a bloody dance floor for cover and the friends frantically try to protect each other.
The attack stopped when a Navy officer grabbed the barrel of the suspect’s gun and burned his hand, and an Army veteran helped subdue Aldrich and beat him until police arrived, authorities said.
Sunday’s gathering outside Club Q, featuring Mobolade and Gov. Jared Polis is expected to attend, and it will allow people to “come together to stand as one community,” the club said when announcing the event.
“Hate will not be tolerated in this city under my watch, and we stand firm,” Mobolade said on Friday. “Our community will not be defined by the atrocities that occurred at Club Q, but our response to them. Our community has come a long way, and I understand that we still have a way to go.
Aldrich, who has not publicly revealed a motive for the shooting, pleaded guilty in June to five counts of murder and 46 counts of attempted murder for each person who was in the club during the attack. Aldrich also pleaded no contest to two hate crimes and was served Five consecutive life imprisonment sentences.
The attack came more than a year after Aldrich, who identifies as non-binary and uses the pronouns they and they, was arrested for threatening their grandparents and Vowing to become “the next mass murderer.” ″While storing weapons, armor, and bomb-making materials.
Those The charges were eventually dismissed After Aldrich’s mother and grandparents He refused to cooperate With prosecutors.
Associated Press writer Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Montana, contributed to this report.