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Photo by Chet Strange / AP
Photo by Chet Strange / AP

One year after Club Q shooting, Colorado Springs continues to heal
One year after the shooting at a Queer bar that claimed the lives of five people and left 19 others injured, Colorado Springs continues to grapple with its effects on the largely conservative community.

The shooting took place just before midnight on November 19, 2022, when the gunman opened fire into the club with an AR-style rifle. The attack was stopped when a Navy officer grabbed the barrel of the suspect's rifle, burning his hand, and an Army veteran helped subdue and beat the shooter until police arrived, authorities said.

The Colorado Springs Police Department identified the five victims as: Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, and Ashley Paugh.

In the immediate aftermath, community leaders and city officials offered their support to the club and the victims. However, as Matthew Haynes, the owner of Club Q, seeks to reopen in another location, it's become clear that Colorado Springs, infamous for its anti-Queer attitudes, is still stuck in its Queerphobic ways.

Letters sent to Haynes read something like: "We don't want those type of people here." In an elevator, Haynes said someone told him, "This will happen over my dead body."

"It's a reminder that there's still intolerance," said Haynes.

The city has worked to be more inclusive since the shooting. Speakers at an anniversary gathering on Sunday included the district attorney, the former and current mayors, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, who was the first openly Gay man to be elected governor in the US.

A new Queer resource center is set to open in Colorado Springs, where an independent candidate surprisingly defeated a longtime Republican office holder to become the first Black mayor of the city, which has a metro area of roughly 480,000 people.

Yet some Queer community members still worry for their safety, including Jackson Oliver, 15, who's Transgender. After watching the big names address the large crowd, Oliver was wary of how much was political posturing. Speaking to the Associated Press, he said, "I would love to believe that they genuinely cared, but I'm not too sure."

At his high school, Oliver and his boyfriend had three other students throw stones and slurs their way. Sometimes they stop holding hands and step apart to avoid harassment. At the local Queer organization for youth, protestors picket outside.

"It's hard knowing that simply by existing... me and my boyfriend are at risk," said Oliver.

Conservative outlet 1819 News under fire after outed Ala. mayor's death
The Alabama community and nationwide media are scrutinizing the conservative blog 1819 News following its controversial coverage of Smiths Station Mayor F.L. "Bubba" Copeland before his tragic death.

1819 News came under fire after publishing stories about Mayor Copeland's secret online persona, through which he explored his gender identity in female-presenting clothing and makeup. The day before Copeland's funeral on Thursday, 1819 News released a podcast episode in which CEO Bryan Dawson and editor-in-chief Jeff Poor discussed their rationale for covering Copeland's private affairs.

According to The Daily Beast, Poor, who also writes for the far-right outlet Breitbart News, defended the decision, stating that Copeland's actions warranted public scrutiny as a public figure and worship leader.

Unapologetic for the reporting, Dawson said that he "100 percent" stood behind their work, emphasizing 1819 News's commitment to "tell the truth, no matter what."

Following the reports, Copeland fatally shot himself. The incident sparked a heated debate over media ethics and the public interest in a person's private life, especially in sensitive matters such as gender identity.

Copeland's suicide on a road as Lee County deputies attempted a welfare check sparked a social media backlash against 1819 News. The debate centered around whether the articles served the public interest or were merely sensationalist fodder for cultural wars over gender identity. Experts have noted that a single event rarely causes suicide, but the timing in this case led to significant public backlash against the news outlet.

In a statement to AL.com, 1819 News referred to Copeland's "victims" while sharing "thoughts and prayers" for the community, the church, and Copeland's family.

This framing of Copeland as having victims in his private activities was met with criticism, particularly in the context of Alabama's current legislative stance against Transgender rights.