Central Missouri LGBTQ businesses call for tolerance, education after Colorado mass shooting

Ashland, Missouri (KMIZ)

LGBTQ+ communities across the country are responding to mass shootings and alleged hate crimes in Colorado.

The Columbia Center Project will hold a vigil Tuesday at 7 p.m. for victims of the Club Q mass shooting at its headquarters at 805 Fairview Ave. Camaren Neilsen of the Center Project said the timing of the shooting, which coincided with Transgender Remembrance Day, was especially painful for the community.

“Gay bars and other community spaces are often the first places we find community, find belonging, and the first safe spaces where we can be free to be our authentic selves,” Nelson said. “So when an incident like this happens in one of these spaces, it’s very distressing and takes away our community’s sense of safety.”

In central Missouri, several businesses cater to the LGBTQ+ community, including Ashland’s Dandy Lion Cafe and Columbia’s Arch and Column Pub.

Arch and Column Pub owner Pitt Potter shared a statement saying their heart aches for the entire LGBTQ community.

“The Q is no longer the ‘safe space’ they had for 21 years, it’s going to be a place of fear and anxiety,” Porter said. “It will no longer be an island of comfort and acceptance. Where will they go to simply relax and be themselves? Q is the last remaining LGBTQ club in the area.”

Dandy Lion owner Caitlin Cunningham said the Colorado mass shooting has shaken the local community.

Dandy Lion hosts regular drag events such as brunch and book clubs. The restaurant is closed this week for Thanksgiving.

“When it’s a specially designated space where you feel safe, it’s closer to home,” Cunningham said. “Dandy Lion’s main mission is to create safe spaces.”

The restaurant is intended to be a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community, which is currently reeling after an alleged hate crime at a gay club in Colorado.

“In the queer community, there are events, especially drag brunch,” Cunningham said. “These descriptions match your description of Dandy Lion Cafe, which is horrible.”

Cunningham said Dandy Lion has close ties to local law enforcement and believes businesses must pay close attention to hate crimes.

“We see when little things happen,” Cunningham said. “So if a guy drives by multiple times in a month and yells gay slurs out the window, it’s trivial to most people. For us, that’s where the violence starts.”

Dandy Lion preaches tolerance and education for marginalized communities at this time.

“Unless action steps are taken very carefully and very purposefully to counteract the ignorance that really exists in our community, it’s hard to feel like this won’t happen again,” Cunningham said.

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