ASHLAND, Mo. (KMIZ)
The LGBTQ+ community across the country is reacting to a mass shooting and alleged hate crime in Colorado.
The Center Project in Columbia is hosting a vigil for the victims of the Club Q mass shooting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at their headquarters at 805 Fairview Ave. Camaron Nielsen with the Center Project said the timing of this shooting was particularly painful to the community as it fell on Transgender Day of Remembrance.
"Gay bars and other community spaces are often the first places where we find community, find a sense of belonging and that first safe space where we're free to be our authentic selves," Nielsen said. "And so, when events like this occur in one of these spaces, it's incredibly painful and robs our community of that sense of safety and security."
In Mid-Missouri there are several businesses that cater to the LGBTQ+ community, including the Dandy Lion Cafe in Ashland and Arch and Column Pub in Columbia.
Arch and Column Pub owner Pitt Potter shared a statement saying their heart hurts for the whole LGBTQ community.
"Instead of Q being the 'safe space' that they have had for 21 years, it will become a place of fear and anxiety," Potter said. "No longer will it be a little island of comfort and acceptance. Where will they go to simply relax and be themselves? Q was the last remaining LGBTQ club in that region."
Dandy Lion owner, Caitlin Cunningham, said the mass shooting in Colorado has shaken the local community.
Dandy Lion regularly hosts drag events like brunches and readings. The restaurant is closed this week for Thanksgiving.
"It hits even closer to home when it is a space that is specifically designated so that you feel safe," Cunningham said. "That is so much of the Dandy Lion's mission is to create that safe space."
The restaurant is designed to be a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, a community that is currently reeling after an alleged hate crime was committed at a gay club in Colorado.
"In a queer community, that hosts events, especially a drag brunch," Cunningham said. "Those are a lot of the descriptors that align with what you could say about the Dandy Lion Cafe and that's terrifying."
Cunningham said Dandy Lion has a close relationship with local law enforcement and feels the business has to keep an eye out for hate crimes.
"We see when something small happens," Cunningham said. "So, if a person drives by and yells a gay slur out the window multiple times in a month, to most people that's small. And to us, that's the beginning of something violent."
Dandy Lion preaches tolerance and education on marginalized communities at this time.
"Until there are action steps being made to very mindfully and very purposefully counteract the ignorance that does exist in our communities, it's hard to feel like this just isn't going to happen again," Cunningham said.