PORTLAND, Ore. — David Fones said news of the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, the only LGBTQ club in that city, triggered a wave of emotions.
"Shocked and hurt, saddened and angry and scared," Fones said, "because it hit so close to home."
Fones is the owner of Scandals Lounge & Restaurant on Southwest Harvey Milk in downtown Portland. The LGBTQ+ bar has been part of the Portland community for over 40 years.
"They lost their safe place, and they may never find that again, and we've tried really hard to be that safe place, and you realize how fragile that can be," Fones said.
Blair Stenvick with Basic Rights Oregon, a statewide advocacy organization, said while the shooting was terribly sad and heartbreaking, it wasn't a surprise.
"Even here in Oregon, we're seeing an increase in anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric," Stenvick said. "I think people have to understand when they increase that violent rhetoric, they are potentially inciting violent acts as well."
Reports to Oregon's bias crime hotline increased by over 50% in 2021 alone.
"Even if the physical spaces where we gather change or targeted, our community is even stronger than those spaces," Stenvick said.
Spaces like Club Q are important to the LGBTQ+ community because places "where they'll know that they'll be affirmed or they'll be addressed with the right pronouns can be valuable," Stenvick added.
"I think what places like Scandals bring to the community is a place where you get to be normal, not accepted, but we're normal here," said Fones.
Basic Rights Oregon has resources on its website for anyone experiencing mental health difficulties as the result of this news.