"We will not let hate win and we will not be defeated."
That's the message the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ community is clinging to following the deadly shooting at Club Q earlier this month. That's also the message celebrated at a drag show Thursday meant to raise money for the staff and performers at the nightclub, all of whom have been out of work since the shooting.
Tiara Latrice Kelley works as a producer at Club Q and was also one of the organizers of the show. She said that in addition to helping with immediate financial needs, she wanted the show to hopefully raise people's spirits.
"In times like this, we come together. We party. We have a good time. We enjoy good shows and, in this instance, we're raising money to help out the people who lost their jobs," Kelley said.
The show included lively performances by a handful of drag queens donning heels, gowns, and dramatic makeup in a display of gender expression. It also had high-energy dancing and singing along with more solemn moments.
Drag queen Autumn Quinn, a performer and Club Q staff member, broke down in tears during her act. The audience responded with a standing ovation while "I Hope You Dance" by country singer LeAnn Womack continued to play.
"This hits like home to us," said Neema Bahrami.
Bahrami worked at Pulse in Orlando, Fla. and survived the 2016 shooting there. He has spent the week in Colorado Springs and attended the show as a way to show love, solidarity, and support. Bahrami said he was heartbroken when he heard of the violence at Club Q.
It's like we were reliving Pulse again," Bahrami said. "It was [more] family members that lost their lives to an act of hate."
Investigators are still working to determine an exact motive.
Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q, was working on the night of the shooting and said the violence has changed many lives forever. Anderson expressed thanks to Richard Fierro and Thomas James, the two credited with stopping the shooter.
"I believe I would not be standing here today without their bravery and I owe them a debt of gratitude that I cannot pay back," Anderson said.
Later in the show, Anderson performed the Phil Collins song "You'll Be In My Heart" in front of photos of the five victims: Derrick Rump, Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Raymond Green Vance and Ashley Green Paugh.
Organizer Tiara Kelley said all of the funds raised at the show will be dispersed directly to those impacted immediately.
"This will help out the people who lost their job and the building that they go to every week to perform to make a paycheck to just make sure that they get through the holidays," she said.
More Club Q coverage
- Colorado Springs fundraisers are rallying people behind the city’s LGBTQ community after the Club Q shooting
- Colorado Healing Fund facing scrutiny from victims advocates over Club Q funds
- ‘Club Q will go on’: Co-owner of the Colorado Springs LGBTQ club speaks about the healing process, visiting the memorial and the future of Club
- As Colorado Springs mourns Club Q shooting, a group of actors is staging a special version of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.