For the survivors of the Pulse shooting, the Club Q shooting this weekend delivered flashbacks of the worst kind.
On Saturday, a gunman opened fire at the gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo. Five people were killed and 19 were injured. The Pulse shooting in Orlando, Fla., saw 49 people die, and many others injured in 2016.
Now, the Orlando community has rallied together anew to offer support and emotional strength to Colorado.
Barbara Poma, executive director of the onePulse Foundation and owner of Pulse at the time of the shooting, reached out directly to Club Q ownership. The foundation released a statement condemning the attack.
“We are deeply saddened and horrified by the mass shooting at the Club Q nightclub in Colorado Springs that killed five people and wounded 18 others,” the statement read. “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the victims and their families, as well as the wounded and those affected by this tragedy. We are grateful to the brave patrons whose heroic actions undoubtedly saved lives and to the first responders who rushed to the scene. While details will emerge in the coming days, violence directed at members of the LGBTQIA+ community must come to an end.”
A vigil took place Sunday in Orlando at the Pulse Interim Memorial to honor those lost in the Club Q attack. Notes of support were written on a banner that will be delivered to Colorado. The Orlando Gay Chorus, a stable of Pulse-related events since the shooting, sang two songs and two faith-based leaders spoke and led a moment of prayer, and other nonprofit leaders shared their thoughts on how communities can heal from such attacks.
Former Florida Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Florida’s first gay Latino lawmaker, said Orlando knows too well that attacks like this shooting at a gay bar capture the nation’s attention for a moment but the scars last in a community forever.
“Our Orlando hearts break for the LGBTQ community in Colorado Springs,” he said. “We have seen how the pain and trauma created by gun violence can last long after the cameras are gone. That's why we are encouraging people to donate to the Colorado Healing Fund which offers direct support to those impacted by the shooting. We must also forcefully speak out against the dehumanization of LGBTQ people that has made our community targets of hatred and violence.”
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, whose district includes Pulse, has also directed funding in toward the Colorado fund as a trusted place people can donate to support the community.
“Right now, we are boosting this fundraising ask from Club Q. I've also reached out to Colorado lawmakers to offer whatever support I can as a community that has navigated this type of tragedy and trauma before,” she said.
And then there are survivors. Orlando Torres, a promoter who survived the Pulse shooting, said it particularly stings knowing families will spend Thanksgiving without loved ones. Like many who lived through the 2016 shooting, he said this news reopens trauma.
“It’s hit our Pule survivors and community very hard,” he said. “As a reflection on what we went through that tragic evening, June 12th 2016 at Pulse Night Club, losing 49 angels as well as 52 others, as well as myself, physically injured, thank God I was not shot.”
He attended the Orlando vigil Sunday and signed the banner.
"We awakened to the all too familiar horror: another hate-motivated mass shooting targeting a community that has been vilified and dehumanized by hateful political rhetoric," Brandon Wolf, also a Pulse survivor and the current press secretary for LGBTQ+ rights group Equality Florida, told The Advocate in a statement. "It is no coincidence that yet another community refuge, and the safety it provides, has been shattered amidst a political climate supercharged with anti-LGBTQ hate by powerful leaders and right-wing extremists. Thanksgiving tables will have empty chairs this week. Holidays will have missing faces. These are the costs of hate violence — costs my community knows all too well."
Chris Hansen, a Pulse survivor who helped the injured after the attack, was in Little Rock when he heard the news, and is organizing a vigil there. He is working to get to Colorado as part of the National Compassion Fund to help survivors recover from the event.
“I cried when I heard. Not only has it affected me, it’s still affecting me,” Hansen said, watering up as he spoke.
“I know what they are going through. I know what it’s going to be like for them, for their future and their past is no longer, and their present is no longer. They have to focus on healing from the heartache and to find support as a community now, to be the best they can be. They are part of a family of survivors that we all don’t want to be a part of, but at least you are with others who have compassion and empathy. We can provide support from those who know the struggle.”