Club Q embodies heart and soul of Colorado Springs’ LGBTQ community


COLORADO SPRINGS — Every year on Thanksgiving and Christmas, members of the LGBTQ community here would come to eat, drink and laugh at Club Q. The gay bar became a sanctuary, an oasis of affirmation and acceptance, for those who might be estranged from their own family with nowhere to go for the holidays.

Club Q’s staff and customers became that family.

“It’s not just a party place,” said Darryl Alexander, who regularly comes to the club with his husband, Dan. “It’s a community building.”

This community was shattered late Saturday night when a gunman indiscriminately opened fire into the festive crowd. Five people were killed — including bar staff and clientele — and at least 25 others were injured. Police took a 22-year-old man into custody, aided by two people who helped spare countless other lives by rushing the shooter.

Police have said the gunman’s motive, at this point, is not clear. But the LGBTQ community has been adamant that the unthinkable violence was marked by animus, the result of increasingly hateful anti-gay rhetoric on social media and in public discourse.

A lot has changed since Club Q opened 20 years ago. But the establishment’s importance to the community has not wavered.

With one of the city’s sole gay bars on the decline in 2002, Matthew Haynes, the club’s founding partner, could see the desperate need for a safe haven.

“Twenty years ago, people in our city government didn’t want this kind of bar there,” he told reporters Sunday afternoon inside the All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church.

The owners made sure the club’s parking lot didn’t face a busy street — better to shield who was coming and going. Cars would be vandalized just for being near the club.

Club Q, for many years, was the only gay bar in this bastion of conservatism, a city that is home to the headquarters of Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry that has long been intolerant of homosexuality. When the bar opened, the U.S. Supreme Court was still more than a decade away from legalizing gay marriage. Military members could still be kicked out for being their true selves.

The bar became a place to celebrate those historic milestones — and let loose. The establishment houses all-ages drag brunch shows, punk concerts and dance parties. Patrons can order “gayoli fries” to pair with “death by rainbow flight” cocktails.


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