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LGBTQ Utahns gather to grieve and find community after Colorado shooting

A dim photo of lit fake candles on top of an inclusive progress pride flag (rainbow stripes with triangles of black, brown, blue, pink, and white on one side).
Duck Thurgood
Attendees at the Logan vigil were given candles to hold during the event.

In the wake of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs on Nov. 19, which killed five people and injured a dozen more, queer Utahns across the state have gathered to mourn those lost and to strengthen the communities that hold them together.

The Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City held a vigil the evening of Nov. 21, where community members lit candles and shared feelings of anger, confusion and heartbreak. Two days later, another vigil was held, this one organized by Utah native Marisa Cannon, who used to work at Club Q and knew two of the victims personally. She told FOX-13 about how the shooting meant she lost not only coworkers but a place of safety.

“When that safe space was ripped away, it was like, not only that was ripped away, but where am I gonna go with my friends, to another club?” Cannon said. “Like, where are we gonna go? ‘Cause when we go out, we go to the gay club, ‘cause that’s where everyone is safe.”

At the Logan Pride house last Wednesday night, community members gathered together against the November chill as the Logan Pride board talked about the victims of the shooting:

  • Raymond Green Vance (he/him), who had been visiting Club Q for the first time to celebrate a birthday with his longtime girlfriend 
  • Kelly Loving (she/her), a transgender woman who was described by her sister as “loving and caring and sweet” 
  • Daniel Aston (he/him), a bar supervisor at Club Q who first told his mother he was a boy when he was four years old 
  • Derrick Rump (he/him), a bartender at Club Q who found a loving community in his work 
  • Ashley Paugh (she/her), a mother whose daughter was “her whole world,” according to her family 

They took a moment of silence for each person, then came together to recite a powerful mantra: “My light will never dim. I will stand up for these people and all people. I will be brave. We are brave together. Our love is stronger than your hate.”

Others shared as well. Amidst their feelings of hopelessness and anger, there was a persistent gratitude for having a community that allows them to be their authentic selves and which takes care of each other in moments of tragedy as well as joy. One attendee, Sawyer, spoke of how happy they were to see the queer community in Logan growing and becoming stronger.

“It feels like it's just you against the world, when you're sitting alone and reading the news,” Sawyer said. “But then you come here, and you remember you do have community and friends and people to support you.”

The vigil ended with a reminder that everyone is always welcome at the Logan Pride House and a plea for everyone to take care of themselves and each other as they work through their grief.

“Really just hold each other tonight,” said Mel Payne, a member of the Logan Pride board of directors.

Resources for queer Utahns such as mental health services, programs and education can be found on the Utah Pride Center website.

Duck is a general reporter and weekend announcer at UPR, and is studying broadcast journalism and disability studies at USU. They grew up in northern Colorado before moving to Logan in 2018, so the Rocky Mountain life is all they know. Free time is generally spent with their dog, Monty, listening to podcasts, reading or wishing they could be outside more.