COLORADO SPRINGS — When Bryan Simms moved to Colorado Springs 17 years ago, he was coming out as a gay man.
"Club Q was the first place that I ever went to where I could be part of the gay community [and] where I could feel comfortable and safe,” Simms said. He was one of the hundreds of people who packed into the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Sunday afternoon.
Club Q is a place so many in the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs considered a safe haven.
"It's really heartbreaking because you think with all of the progress that's been made in the state of Colorado you think, oh something like that won't happen here because the state has changed so much and to see it happen, it leaves you wondering just how safe am I?" Simms said.
Simms is a member of the Out Loud Men's Chorus, a choir geared towards gay men in Colorado Springs that's also considered a safe space for people in the LGBTQ community. The group recently started back up after a hiatus during the pandemic. Their first concert is coming up in a couple of weeks.
Leaders from the group say they will have counselors on hand at their next rehearsal.
"We're still rehearsing, we're still going to go forward as we had planned, probably with a little more reverence," Simms said. A sentiment echoed by fellow chorus member Audi Weiss.
"The best thing we can do to honor them is to keep going," Weiss said "to help still create those safe spaces for everyone. Part of singing is releasing emotion and helping people cope with emotions," Weiss said.
Sunday's vigil at the church included speakers such as Governor Jared Polis, Morgan Medlock from the Behavioral Health Administration, and Club Q's owners.
"Club Q doesn't have employees, Club Q doesn't have customers, Club Q has family and community and that's what we have," Club Q's founder Matthew Haynes told the crowd. Club Q lost at least two employees to gunfire.
A memorial grew outside the church Sunday as people stopped by to pay their respects.
At the crime scene, candles, stuffed animals, and posters filled a makeshift memorial set up along N. Academy Boulevard.
Several other memorials and vigils are planned in the days to come in Colorado Springs. Other organizations throughout the state are also holding spaces for people to grieve and heal.
Here's a list of some of the community events offering space for people to pay their respects and in some cases, receive counseling services.
Monday, November 21st events
- UCCS Healing Circle, UCCS Mountain Lion Circle, 5 :00 p.m.
- First Congregational Church Community Vigil, 20 E St. Vrain Colorado Springs, 5:00 p.m.
- Club Q Community Remembrance and Radicalization, Acacia Park, Colorado Springs 5:00 p.m.
- Vista Grande Community Church, 5460 N Union Blvd Colorado Springs, 7:00 p.m, virtual option available
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.