CAÑON CITY — In April, a Facebook post to a group page asked "Is there an LGBT community in Cañon City?"
"I was surprised to see the post, I don't know why," said Matt Starika, who was born and raised in Cañon City.
“When I was in High School way back when, people just weren’t coming back then. It didn’t feel safe yet,” said Starika, reflecting on his journey to eventually coming out.
The post was soon flooded with comments of people saying that, essentially, there is a "thriving" LGBTQIA community in Cañon City, but no "glorified" group or organization.
“You had some people that were like no there’s nothing here, ya know this is a small town community or whatever... And then you had the people that were the gays and lesbians of the community going - OH NO, you won’t find anything like that here.”
Many comment suggested that anyone looking for a structured group search in Pueblo or Westcliffe for some that are already established. However, Starika says he feels that many of the comments did not accurately reflect the culture in Cañon City.
“Yes, Cañon is a conservative town, I mean there’s no doubt about that... But at the heart of that, there’s a community that loves community."
Others agree with Starika's sentiment that, for the most part, they feel welcomed and accepted by the community in Cañon City, even if there is no specified support group or organization.
"It’s not the 1980s anymore!" said Brian Webber, to which his husband, David, replied "No! Thank goodness!"
The Webbers moved to Cañon City four years ago, and now own The Lavender Farm . Although times have changed and progressed, David Webber says the need for an organization is absolutely prevalent.
“We’re all social creatures and we like to be sociable with people who have similar understandings, whether it’s political, economic, or whatever!”
Brian Webber noted that for youth in Cañon City who identify as LGBTQIA, and organization or group for resources would be especially helpful.
“Growing up in a small town myself, there was nothing. You know, you need to have some place where you can go and find similar people in the same situation, because not everybody has accepting families.”
Starika says beginning a group was an idea that had to be asked about, in order for it to stop being overlooked.
"We’re focused on an economical crash, or a pandemic or something like that, and then when someone says something about it you go - Oh, yeah well that's actually something we could probably do, fairly easily!
Starika also says if a group ever is started, he hopes it will be used to "better our community as a whole" and not just the LGBTQI community.
If you know of any organization in Cañon City and want to get the word out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org . Meanwhile, Starika highly recommends The Trevor Project to connect with others in the LGBTQIA community.