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Hundreds gather in Colorado Springs to remember victims of CLUB Q shooting

JUANA SUMMERS, HOST:

One year after a mass shooting at an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs, the club's owners announced they'll build a permanent memorial. Survivors and members of the local queer community say Club Q has been important for their culture. Paolo Zialcita with Colorado Public Radio attended two memorials.

PAOLO ZIALCITA, BYLINE: Club Q has been closed since the shooting. Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered to remember and honor those affected. As pop hits by Britney Spears, Natasha Bedingfield and others played in the background, members of the LGBTQ community, survivors and the families of victims lit incense and left flowers in front of memorials dedicated to the five people killed. Wyatt Kent, a drag queen who was performing the night of the shooting, said it was an opportunity to celebrate the memories of those lost.

WYATT KENT: It's been beautiful the way that the community has wrapped itself around me and other survivors, as well as victims' families, and have allowed us to be open, vulnerable and allow ourselves to pour back into the community ourselves.

ZIALCITA: The first event Sunday was organized by Club Q's owners. Employees, elected officials and others spoke to those gathered. The second was organized by a local law firm, which invited people to beautify life-sized posters of victims on the club's exterior wall. Cynthia Duehr remembers Club Q as a safe space for the Colorado Springs queer community. She grew up there and went to all-ages cookouts in the club's parking lot.

CYNTHIA DUEHR: There would be people who got it, and then some elder queers to kind of show the way that it could be and show queer joy, which is not something you're used to, especially as a queer child in high school.

ZIALCITA: Rico Marquez came to the event wrapped in a pride flag.

RICO MARQUEZ: I've been coming to Club Q for about a few years now. It's actually where I met - where I've had my first date with my boyfriend, now my fiance.

ZIALCITA: Club Q co-owner Matthew Haynes updated people who came to the event on the next stages of building a permanent memorial.

MATTHEW HAYNES: We have spent the last year working with the architect firm HBNA and the City of Colorado Springs to modify the building development plan to allow a permanent tribute garden, consisting of a flagpole surrounded by five columns, 17 boulders and benches for reflection.

ZIALCITA: The memorial will be built in front of the entrance to the building where the shooting happened. But Haynes has been planning to move the club to a new location in Colorado Springs under a new name. There's no clear timeline for when that will happen. For NPR News, I'm Paolo Zialcita in Colorado Springs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ZACHARY DAWES AND NICK SENA'S "GIVE IT A WHIRL") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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