When the “gay revolution,” took off in the 1970’s, Garcia said bars were a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people to gather authentically, as churches, jobs and schools had harassed them, forced them out and pushed them back into hiding.
“The greatest fear in an event like this is that it could set us back. That people who are afraid to go out and afraid to come out, won’t come out because of the fear that is instilled,” Garcia said. “Because realistically, where is safe anymore?”
The suspect from Saturday is still in police custody at the hospital and charges will likely be brought soon.
The shooting took place minutes before Transgender Day of Remembrance began, which Garcia said was particularly harrowing.
“Now a place where people felt comfort and solace has been taken away,” Garcia said. “I just am so afraid that people are going to be afraid to come out because of incidents like this.”
Colorado Springs held a Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony at Temple Beit Tora, where several religious leaders and transgender community members spoke to the pain and trauma that Saturday’s shooting brought on the community.
“For this to culminate right after such violence was committed against our community, it's just that much more of a visceral reminder of what we have to face every single day right now,” said Aurora Autumn Goodno.
[Related: A Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony takes on added significance after Club Q shooting]
Garcia is also a mental health counselor who works primarily with the transgender community and said most find immense joy in expressing themselves, but the cruelty of a transphobic society makes the process painful.
“The hard part isn’t being trans,” Garcia said. “The hard part is being believed and accepted for who you are.”
Though the event was devastating, Garcia also hopes her community will not lose help and slide backwards into a time of less acceptance and more hiding.
“Our community needs to hear words of hope. Our community needs to hear messages of love,” Garcia said. “We have to keep moving forward and make sure that all god’s people are given what they need.”
Alison Berg is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at email@example.com.