The motive behind the attack at Club Q was still unknown on Sunday morning. As the investigation continued, observers around the world lamented that the deadly shooting at the club came just before an event for victims of anti-L.G.B.T.Q. hate crimes.
In recent years, the killings of dozens of transgender people in America, many of them transgender women of color, have sparked fears of an “epidemic” of such violence.
Colorado Springs, a city of about 500,000 people south of Denver, is a Republican stronghold, and for decades it was a center for conservative Christian efforts to pass laws limiting the rights of gay people. It has been home to a number of religious leaders with national platforms who condemned homosexuality.
At the same time, the city has long had a small but vibrant L.G.B.T.Q. community that supported a handful of small clubs, seemingly energized by a dominant surrounding culture that didn’t always welcome them.
Richard Skorman, a longtime City Council member and local business owner, said Colorado Springs was for years a center of anti-gay activism, and the home base for Christian think tanks and political groups. The influence of those groups reached a high-water mark in 1992 when they were instrumental in passing a state ballot initiative, known as Amendment 2, that prohibited local governments from banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Amendment 2 was later declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
“We had that reputation,” Mr. Skorman said. “Colorado was the hate state, and Colorado Springs was the hate city.”
During that time, his restaurant, Poor Richard’s, was repeatedly targeted for being a gay-friendly hangout. Employees frequently received threats, and a brick was thrown through the window.
Mr. Skorman was a member of the City Council in 1999 when it recognized same-sex partnerships for city employees. Four years later, a more conservative council revoked the policy.
“What happened is a tragedy,” Mr. Skorman said. “But I don’t think it’s unique to our community. It is happening all across the country. There are a lot of crazy, angry people out there, and it’s very easy for them to get guns.”
In recent years, though, anti-gay activism in the city has largely disappeared, Mr. Skorman said.
The city now hosts an annual Pride parade, and its fast population growth has diluted the influence of far-right conservatives. Colorado Springs has become more diverse, the firebrand Christian leaders who once denounced homosexuality as a sin have aged out, and the Evangelical Christian leaders who have replaced them generally express greater tolerance.
As evidence of the changing culture, Club Q, the L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub where the deadly shooting occurred, is not hidden away in an obscure neighborhood. It stands on a major commercial boulevard, next to a Walgreens drugstore and a Subway sandwich shop.
Club Q, an L.G.B.T.Q. nightclub about seven miles outside downtown Colorado Springs, had scheduled a musical drag brunch for Sunday morning. On Sunday evening, it was planning to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance “with a variety of gender identities and performance styles” at an 8 p.m. show.
The attack late Saturday brought terror to a place that was, for many visitors, a refuge, a place to escape the hate, discrimination and violence often endured by L.G.B.T.Q. people outside its doors. Gay bars have long been havens for those exploring their identity, or simply seeking a space to be themselves without fear of not being accepted.
One online review called Club Q a “fun, inclusive place to hang out.” A visitor wrote that “everyone is so freaking kind,” while another said they were “glad to see a good queer space in Colorado Springs.”
On Saturday, the night of the shooting, a punk and alternative show was scheduled for 9 p.m. A D.J. was scheduled to go on for a dance party starting at 11 p.m. The police received their first call at 11:57 p.m., the authorities said.
This content was originally published here.