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Dan Savage on why the Colorado club shooting is an attack on all LGBTQ people

Dan Savage shares "we will fight until we're safe everywhere.”

By Emily Maskell

Dan Savage
Dan Savage reflects on safe spaces following a mass shooting at Colorado's LGBT club (Image: WikiCommons)

American writer and LGBTQ+ community activist Dan Savage has shared his thoughts on the evolution of safe spaces in the wake of the mass shooting at Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar Club Q, which left five dead and 25 injured over the weekend.

In a tweet thread on Sunday (20 November), Savage shared his thoughts on the history behind LGBTQ+ safe spaces, where queerness is kept private behind closed doors, and how he believes we must come out of the bars and onto the streets to fight to be safe anywhere and everywhere.

“It’s not just that gay bars are supposed to be a safe space,” Savage, author of Savage Love, began.

“People who hate queer people want us to keep it private. Behind closed doors. Someplace they don’t have to see it. And the doors of a gay bar are doors we keep it behind.”

The locations are a place “we can go and be together and not bother *them* with the fact of our existence.” Here, queerness exists separate from hateful glances and “we can forget *they* exist. Not straight people. There are straight people in gay bars and clubs. Our friends. But behind those doors we can forget — we can suspend our disbelief — and pretend the haters don’t exist.”

The 58-year-old writer referenced the Colorado Springs shooting, writing: “An attack like this says “not even here.” Behind closed doors isn’t good enough for *them.* It’s not that they want us to exist out of sight. They don’t want us to exist at all.”

Savage goes on to state that if even LGBTQ+ places are not safe for all LGBTQ+ people “we have no choice but to fight to make it safe everywhere, for all LGBT people.”

“Out of the bars and into the streets!” he quotes, a chant heard during the Stonewall Riots.

“The raid on the Stonewall Inn was state-sponsored violence. The attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs last night… well, we’re waiting on the full details. But it looks like GOP-sponsored violence. Not just the logical result of the ‘groomer’ blood libel, but the goal.”

Here, Savage seems to reference Colorado republican representatives, Dave Williams and Mark Baisley, who targeted Highlands Ranch’s first drag show saying they were concerned about “groomers” at the event (even though tickets were restricted to adults 21 and older).

This was just one of many examples where republican voices have villainized the trans community in the US – the Colorado mass shooting occured a day before Club Q was set to host a Transgender Day of Remembrance brunch.

“Behind closed doors was never enough,” Savage continued. “They knocked down those doors and arrested us in bedrooms and evicted us from our apartments and fired us from our jobs and made something that’s already hard to do—loving another human being—almost impossible.”

“We fought back then. We fought back last night,” he adds.

“And we’re going to keep fighting. Because if we’re not safe behind the closed doors of a gay bar — if they can’t let us have even that — then we’re not safe anywhere.”

He concludes: “So we will fight until we’re safe everywhere.”

In the wake of the mass shooting, Club Q shared an official donation site to help victims of the shooting on its Facebook page.

Also, the donation site, Colorado Gives 365, supports the Colorado Healing Fund, created to deal with the aftermath of mass violence and provide victims with immediate and long-term support.

Additional fundraisers from those close to Club Q victims include: Greg Resha helping to raise funds for medical and funeral expenses, Good Judy Garage has set a goal of $500,000 for funeral expenses, medical expenses and other expenses for the families of those who were killed or injured, and Classroom of Compassion is collecting funds to set up public altars and a healing youth pop-up space in Colorado Springs to honour the victims.