Colorado Springs reckons with past after LGBTQ club shooting

Jack Rasmusson, chaplain coordinator for the Billy Graham Rapid Response...

By SAM METZ and STEPHEN GROVES

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When officials unfurled a 25-foot rainbow flag in front of Colorado Springs City Hall this week, people gathered to mourn the victims of a mass shooting at a popular gay club couldn’t help but reflect on how such a display of support would have been unthinkable just days earlier.

With a growing and diversifying population, the city nestled at the foothills of the Rockies is a patchwork of disparate social and cultural fabrics. It’s a place full of art shops and breweries; megachurches and military bases; a liberal arts college and the Air Force Academy. For years it’s marketed itself as an outdoorsy boomtown with a population set to top Denver’s by 2050.

But last weekend’s shooting has raised uneasy questions about the lasting legacy of cultural conflicts that caught fire decades ago and gave Colorado Springs a reputation as a cauldron of religion-infused conservatism, where LGBTQ people didn’t fit in with the most vocal community leaders’ idea of family values.

For some, merely seeing police being careful to refer to the victims using their correct pronouns this week signaled a seismic change. For others, the shocking act of violence in a space considered an LGBTQ refuge shattered a sense of optimism pervading everywhere from the city’s revitalized downtown to the sprawling subdivisions on its outskirts.

Jack Rasmusson, chaplain coordinator for the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team, works his way through the crowd at a memorial outside Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Five people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the club Saturday night. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

Austin Wilmarth, outreach coordinator for the Colorado Springs Vet Center, attaches a gay pride flag to a mobile counseling center near Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. The center, which is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offered counseling and outreach services to veterans, service members and the community following a shooting at the gay night club that killed five people Saturday night. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

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Traffic moves through downtown Colorado Springs, Colo., on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. The city is a place full of art shops and breweries; megachurches and military bases; a liberal arts college and the Air Force Academy. For years it’s marketed itself as an outdoorsy boomtown with a population set to top Denver’s by 2050. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

Counselors Katie Tousley, left, Austin Wilmarth, center; and John Shamy, right, sit inside a mobile outreach center near Club Q on Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. The center, which is run by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, offered services to veterans, service members and the community following a shooting at the gay night club that killed five people Saturday night. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

The Garden of the Gods is seen in morning light Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022, in Colorado Springs, Colo. With a growing and diversifying population, the city nestled at the foothills of …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News

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