LGBTQ resources are available in Eagle County as Colorado comes to grips with Club Q shooting
As Colorado mourns the five lives taken at Club Q, the Colorado Springs nightclub and community gathering space where a 22-year-old gunman opened fire just before midnight Saturday, local resources are available in Eagle County to assist LGBTQ community members.
Mountain Pride is an Eagle County-based nonprofit organization providing support, services and connections to the local LGBTQ community. It focuses on education, engagement, advocacy, activism and the establishment of resources, said Madison Partridge, the nonprofit’s executive director.
Mountain Pride hosts trainings, workshops and speaking engagements for anyone in the community to learn from and “engage in conversations that will ensure welcoming and thriving environments for all,” Partridge said.
The organization also operates five Mountain Strong peer support groups in partnership with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. The groups, which provide ongoing communal support, include “Gay, Straight, or Anywhere In Between,” “Supporting an LGBTQ+ Individual in Your Life,” “Comunidad Latina LGBTQ+ Edwards y Gypsum,” and “Transgender and Nonbinary.” Partridge explained that for those in need of support, communicating with others in similar situations can be immensely helpful.
Partridge said that now more than ever, even more support like what is provided through Mountain Pride and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health is crucial to the community.
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“We know that our community is afraid and needs to see and feel support,” Partridge said of the Nov. 19 shooting. “What we need now more than ever is for allies to step in and step up to support the LGBTQ+ community through active allyship and advocacy.”
Greg Daly, the chief of the Avon Police Department and board president of SpeakUp ReachOut, extended allyship on behalf of his department. In response to news of the Club Q shooting, Daly said that he shared a photo of a Pride flag hanging outside the Avon Police Department to the law enforcement agency’s Facebook page as a reminder of the importance of local LGBTQ individuals within the community.
“I, on behalf of our men and women at our police department want our LGBTQ+ community in Avon to know that we are here for them and we are here to protect and serve them as much as we are for any other member of our community,” Daly said.
Partridge said that messages of support from organizations like SpeakUp ReachOut and the Avon Police Department are “emotional and humbling,” but the local LGBTQ community is still reeling from the tragedy.
“Condolences and prayers can’t bring these beautiful lives back,” Partridge said. “As LGBTQ+ community members, we know that homophobic and transphobic rhetoric have real and devastating consequences. I want people to know that their words don’t just live on screens, they live in real life, and on Saturday night, we saw this become all too real and so close to home.”
Partridge said that negative rhetoric and stigma aimed at the LGBTQ community can’t be separated from the ongoing violence against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender people, citing a Human Rights Campaign Foundation report entitled “An Epidemic of Violence 2022. The report details that at least 32 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed in the United States since the beginning of 2022
Partridge said that stigma against LGBTQ people exists right on Eagle County’s doorstep.
“This is not just a national issue,” Partridge said. “From Pride flags coming down in Gypsum at the recreation center to community members speaking out (against) drag story times at the county commissioners meeting, (to) direct LGBTQ+ hate speech and bullying in our schools, as well as under-the-breath and closed-doored comments and judgmental gazes, hate is very real in Eagle County and thus, so are its effects.”
Partridge said members of the LGBTQ community deserve to feel safe, just like any other Eagle County resident. But the reality, she said, is that being visibly queer or transgender is a choice of “joy over safety every day.”
LGBTQ bars like Club Q in Colorado Springs are among the few spaces with decades of history of inclusion and community for queer populations. Partridge explained that for many LGBTQ community members, these places are the only environments queer individuals feel comfortable expressing themselves authentically, making the Nov. 19 tragedy that much more disheartening for the LGBTQ community.
“We must continue to fight for a community in Eagle County and the world where LGBTQ+ people are able to be fully celebrated in life and not just in our deaths,” Partridge said.
Looking forward, Partridge said individuals and businesses in Eagle County can support its LGBTQ community members through acts of allyship and support. She said allyship can take various forms, including calling out hateful rhetoric, having conversations about LGBTQ issues, proudly flying a Pride flag, and financially or otherwise supporting LGBTQ nonprofits like Mountain Pride and queer-owned businesses.
Eagle County residents can also show support for the LGBTQ community at one of the upcoming Mountain Pride Events like the World Aids Day free HIV testing in partnership with the Red Ribbon Project on Dec. 1, or the Pride Ice Skating Pool Party at the Eagle Ice Rink on Dec. 2. For information about Mountain Pride events, services or to donate to the nonprofit, visit MountainPride.org.
“We need everyone to join us in empowering LGBTQ+ leaders, building safer, stronger communities and reducing stigma,” Partridge said. “We cannot rest until all LGBTQ+ people, specifically transgender and gender non-conforming people, can live our lives safely as our full selves.”