EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After a horrific shooting at a queer bar in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that left five people dead, local drag queens and an activist say they are questioning their safety.
Drag queens Circe and Fish the Clown described clubs where they perform as a safe place and home for many.
“Now the one safe space we have, it’s an easier target, because they know that’s where we get together. They know that’s where we are happy,” said Fish the Clown.
Ever since the shooting this Saturday, they say they are more aware of their surroundings too.
“Now I’m in the back of my head thinking, ‘Exits, here’s some sounds, what am I going to do, fight or flight?'” said Circe.
When such events happen, they explained, it hits home for every member of the LGBTQ+ community and it is in these times that it’s important to share their message, the one of love, acceptance and equality.
“I feel like people think we want more, but no, we just want to be right there next to you. We want to be treated and protected just the same,” said Fish the Clown.
Both describing drag as a celebration of accepting every part of yourself, saying they often hear comments after their shows of people telling them how good it makes them feel.
Wesley Lawrence, local activist and president of Stonewall Democrats, was one of the organizers of a vigil held on Sunday for victims of the shooting, alongside Borderland Rainbow Center.
“When we go to a gay club or a queer club, it’s where we expect to be safe. It’s not that there are no other places that are like that, but that is where we are home,” Lawrence said.
He explained El Paso is fortunate to have local government leaders such as Mayor Oscar Leeser and County Judge Ricardo Samaniego who are allies of the LGBTQ+ community, but he believes there is still room for progress.
“That’s why I’m pushing County Judge Samaniego and Mayor Oscar Leeser to open an Office of Equality on city and county level,” he said.
Circe, Fish and Lawrence all agreed that this is the time to be vocal about LGBTQ+ rights.
“We are not here to hurt you. We are here to love one another. We want our allies to be here for us and we will always be there for our allies,” Lawrence said.
“We are only going to push to fight for each other even harder,” Circe said, adding, “Yes, it’s scary. To hell with that, for too long we have been hiding in the shadow. We just want to be equal and be seen.”
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