Colorado LGBTQ club where mass shooting happened ‘felt like home,’ says former DJ

As It Happens6:38Colorado LGBTQ club where mass shooting happened ‘felt like home,’ says former DJ

For Greg Resha, Club Q was like home, and its patrons and staff like family.

Now some of those family members have been lost forever after a gunman opened fire at the LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Saturday.

Five people were killed, including two of Resha’s friends, bartenders Daniel Davis Aston and Derrick Rump. Another of his friends was injured, but is expected to recover.

According to court records, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, faces five murder charges and five charges of committing a bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury. The charges are preliminary and subject to change. He remained hospitalized with unspecified injuries, police said.

Resha was a DJ at Club Q for 10 years. He was also a regular patron and drag performer at the club, and he got married there. Now he’s raising money for the victims of the shooting via a GoFundMe campaign called “Victims of Club Q Colorado Springs Mass Shooting.”

Here is part of his conversation with As It Happens host Nil Köksal.

How did you first learn about what … happened at Club Q on the weekend?

I wasn’t there that night. I first found out [when] I got a call at about 4 o’clock in the morning asking if I was OK.

After that, I just spent the morning wondering: What am I going to do about this?

And so around 9 am, I started a GoFundMe. And I’ve been to vigils, and I’ve been speaking to media and [attending] memorials. So it’s been a very busy 24 hours.

Have you had a moment even just to sit still and process anything?

I did last night after I came home from the last memorial. That’s when I broke down. That’s when it really sank in.

So I’m, in a way, glad that happened last night so that I could speak today. A lot of my friends have been asked by the media to talk, and they just can’t or they don’t want to. And so they’ve asked me if they could give them my phone number.

I was their host, I was their DJ for over 10 years. So, of course, I’ll speak.

A pile of flowers, stuffed animals and rainbow flags on the ground surrounding a small handmade sign with the Cub Q logo: A rainbow heart over a black ribbon, with the words:
A makeshift memorial near the Club Q nightclub continues to grow. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Beyond working there, though, and connecting with people, that space has meant a lot to you in many other ways. It’s really been a part of your life, as I understand it. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

I started performing there as a drag queen in 2006. And we got some really popular shows going on Friday nights. And then after that, around 2008 or so, I officially became the resident DJ.

We had some wild parties. Every month we had a big themed party that I remember. And I mean, there was a 45-minute wait at the door.

It was a popular, popular place.

It was one of the best clubs in the state, gay or straight.

You got married there.

I did get married there, yes. We had an Alice in Wonderland– themed wedding. And so we decorated the club like Alice in Wonderland. And my husband, AJ, he was in a white tuxedo as the white rabbit. And I was in a red gown as a red queen. And it was truly the best day of my life.

Two people, clad in winter gear, kneel outside at night in front of a makeshift memorial with flowers and candles.  One person has their arms wrapped around the other in an embrace.
People comfort each other during a vigil near Club Q on Sunday night. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

When you’re there at night or you’re DJing or you’re dancing, what does it feel like to be in that space?

Home. It felt like home. It felt like family.

We compare it to just like any other family. There’s times that you get along. There’s times you don’t. There are times that you don’t see each other for years. But it doesn’t really change the fact that family is home. And when we’re together, we’re home.

And now we’re starting to realize … we may not have a physical place, but when we’re together, we’ll be home.

You don’t think it’ll reopen?

I do not know. And I sure hope it does, because it’s been a staple of our community for about 20 years.

We have to get through this. We’re going to get through this. And the best way to get through any tragedy is together.– Greg Resha, former Club Q DJ

For people who don’t know Colorado Springs and don’t know the club, what did it mean to have a Club Q for the community in Colorado Springs?

Colorado Springs is primarily a military town. We have five military bases here.

And also there’s a lot of major religious headquarters who are anti-gay in this town as well.

And so many gay organizations and many gay businesses have struggled to survive in this town because they have been under attack politically. We’ve had Bibles thrown at the front door. And so it is shocking, but it’s no surprise that this happened.

You thought something like this could happen?

Of course. I mean, we live in a country where it can happen anywhere.

Cars parked in front of a single-storey, multicolored building, with a sign on the roof that reads:
Greg Resha says Club Q was the best club in the state, ‘gay or straight.’ (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

You describe the joy and the happiness and the family — that feeling of home that this place has given you for so long. How does it feel as you think about it today?

It’s devastating. Especially for the younger kids, because a lot of the younger kids literally have nothing else. They have nowhere else to go that they can call a safe place, that they can just go and dance and be themselves, especially in a conservative town like Colorado Springs.

It’s difficult for gays and transgenders and even drag queens to be visible in public. And so Club Q is one of the few places where we can be ourselves. And it really hurts that it was violated.

How do you think you and other folks in the community there … [will] recover from this?

Together. That’s how we’ve got to do it. We have to get through this. We’re going to get through this. And the best way to get through any tragedy is together.

Support is available for anyone affected by this report. You can talk to a mental health professional via Wellness Together Canada by calling 1-866-585-0445 or text WELLNESS to 686868 for youth or 741741 for adults. It is free and confidential.

With files from The Associated Press. Interview produced by Katie Geleff. Q&A edited for length and clarity.

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