Owner, patron of South Fla. LGBTQ+ bar reflect on Colo. nightclub shooting
A mass shooting claimed the lives of five people and injured at least 25 more at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States, decried the deadly shooting as "horrific widening and devastating."
Closer to home in South Florida, LBGTQ+ residents and leaders said they are feeling the same.
Ron Amodio, the owner at Mad Hatter Lounge in Lake Worth Beach, told WPTV he's shocked a shooting in a gay nightclub has happened again.
"It's unbelievable that there's so much hatred," Amodio said.
Mad Hatter is a popular bar for the LGBTQ+ community. Amodio said it celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday. It was a happy day with a full bar, but still, he said Saturday night's shooting in Colorado was looming in the shadows.
"We did have some second thoughts about it," Amodio said.
Safety concerns are a heartbreaking reality facing many in the LGBTQ+ community every day.
"Every time I come here, I always have that in the back of my head, not going to lie," customer Leo Hedlund said. "I'm always looking at the exits, where's the closest one to me every time I come here, just because we have to be aware of that. But it's not going to stop me from living my life, because I shouldn't be afraid to live my life because somebody else doesn't understand it or somebody else doesn't agree with it."
Leaders at Compass Community Center sent WPTV this statement:
"The news about the shooting against the LGBTQ community in Colorado is a sudden horror that follows years of increased rhetorical and legislative attacks aimed at LGBTQ people. We are deeply saddened for the friends and families who have lost loved ones in this senseless act of violence and hatred.
When an armed individual opened fire Saturday night at Club Q in Colorado Springs last night they were seeking to eradicate the safe spaces where our community goes to relax, to be together, and to exist. Over 50 years ago, the Stonewall riots were a reaction to endless police raids and abuse suffered by our community. Today, our Pride celebrations are our answer to those who attempt to silence us and erase our ability to live in a free society.
The LGBTQ community has never allowed hatred, bigotry, ignorance or judgment to define us, to demean us, or to destroy us, and we won't start now. Those who want to drown us in darkness will discover that the bright, bold colors of our inclusive rainbow flag will not be dimmed.
Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance; when we stop to recognize those who have been killed for no reason other than their authentic lives didn't align with someone else's rigid dogma. We condemn all acts of violence and seek to work towards a time when this senseless is a thing of the past."
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