Students, faculty and staff gathered under cloudy evening skies at the University Student Union Sol Center on Dec. 1 to honor the five people who were shot and killed at Club Q, described as a “haven” for LGBTQ+ people in Colorado Springs. Seventeen others were injured in the shooting Nov. 19.

Whitney Workman, acting coordinator for CSUN’s Pride Center, spoke first to the crowd of about three dozen people, who stood and held small tealights in memory of those murdered and wounded.

“We at the Pride Center are really devastated by what has happened, and we are also ignited by what has happened,” Workman said. “We will continue to have programs and send the message that we are not afraid. We will not be pushed into the shadows.”

Before the vigil, the Pride Center hosted “Kinky Karaoke” on Nov. 29, a community-building event focused on inclusive sexual health education followed by karaoke — a safe space and forum where LGBTQIA+ students could connect, staff said.

Octavian Martinez, 19, works at the Pride Center as a facilitator for “T-Time,” a weekly event that welcomes non-binary, gender-questioning and trans students. The second-year psychology student said programs such as Kinky Karaoke, T-Time and the vigil show the strength of their numbers on campus.

“It’s important because it creates a sense of community, especially after such a tragic event like this … this isn’t the first time this happened but if we can work together, perhaps it can be the last” they said. “It’s the reason we’ve gotten so far as a community, just getting together and fighting for our rights.”

At the Dec. 1 vigil, Octavian shared that the Pride Center staff was devastated by the tragedy and furious about the attacks against the LGBTQIA+ community, which are growing in strength and frequency supported through anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.

Workman then invited others to speak, to share their sentiments about the shooting and other recent attacks. People stepped up to the microphone for more than an hour, to share their feelings of outrage, fear and sorrow.

Participants at the vigil also recognized the vigil being held on World AIDS Day — celebrated worldwide to support the fight against HIV and AIDS, increase awareness and testing, and raise funds to further research and resources for people living with HIV or AIDS.

After the vigil and speakers, the Pride Center invited everyone inside for coffee and to view a special altar set up with flowers, photos and drawings, in honor of those who died at Club Q.

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