NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — LGBTQ activists and bar owners around Middle Tennessee see Saturday night’s shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado — which left five dead and 25 injured — as an attack on the whole community.
“When one LGBT person hurts, we all hurt, and so for us, there’s a need to honor the lives that were lost, honor the people that were hurt, but then also come together as a community to say, ‘okay, we are going to stand up to hatred in all of its forms,'” said Inclusion Tennessee founder Phil Cobucci.
Lipstick Lounge owner Christa Suppan was devastated by the attack.
As the owner of one of 21 lesbian-owned bars nationally and the only one in Nashville, she sees her business as a safe place for members of her community, just as LGBTQ people in Colorado Springs saw Club Q.
“The fear of simply going to work and providing a safe place for my community puts me on high alert,” Suppan said in a message to News 2. “I hate living in the fear of if we are next, I hate the nightmares that occur in my mind when I see it happen again.”
Cobucci echoed Suppan’s remarks and said gay bars hold a special place in the community.
“That’s where we connect with one another,” he said. “That’s where we build relationships, both friendships and otherwise.”
The executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, Chris Sanders, noted that this attack comes as he sees verbal attacks on the LGBTQ community intensify.
“The escalating rhetoric against our community has devastating consequences. We can honor the victims and survivors with action that will have life-giving ripples for years to come,” Sanders wrote in a statement.
Sanders also pointed out that this attack happened just minutes before International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day meant to honor transgender people who died in acts of violence.
As of Sunday evening, neither Gov. Bill Lee nor any Middle Tennessee members of the House of Representatives or the Senate have posted on their official Facebook or Twitter pages about the shooting. However, the mayor of Nashville and members of Metro Council have done so.