Survivors of last month’s mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs shared their harrowing experiences with members of Congress Wednesday.
Five people were killed and around two dozen were hurt in the massacre.
The focus of the House committee hearing was about the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes around the country.
“We shouldn’t have to fear being shot when we go to our safe spaces or anywhere for that matter,” said James Slaugh, a survivor of the Club Q shooting.
Michael Anderson was bartending at Club Q when the shooter opened fire.
“I can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today,” said Anderson. “I saw my friend lying on the floor bleeding out knowing there was little to no chance of surviving that bullet wound.”
The owner of Club Q told lawmakers they have received hundreds of hate messages filled with homophobic slurs since the shooting.
He read some examples to demonstrate the vitriol towards the LGBTQ+ community even after lives were lost.
“I woke up to the wonderful news that five mentally unstable f****** and lesbians and 18 injured,” said Matthew Haynes, founding owner of Club Q. “The only thing I’m mad about is that the f****** had courage to subdue the wonderful killer.”
Their message to the lawmakers on the House committee was clear: hate speech can lead to violence and they urged elected leaders to serve by example.
“Hate rhetoric from politicians, religious leaders and media outlets is at the root of the attacks like at Club Q and it needs to stop now,” said Slaugh. “Rhetoric that makes people less than for being different.”
“Actions based on hate almost took my life from me at 25 years old,” said Anderson. “I beg you all to consider your words before you speak them, for someone may use those words to justify action. Action that may take someone’s life.”
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