Lincoln gay bar grieves after shooting in Colorado Springs
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – A gay bar in Lincoln was brought together by the tragic shooting at Club Q in Colorado.
Justin Witthuhn, a drag queen, said he felt shocked when he heard that five people were killed and 17 wounded at one of the first clubs he had performed in.
Although it’s sad, Witthuhn said the possibility of violence in drag is always there.
“I want to say you never expect it, but at the same time, it’s something always in the back of your head, unfortunately nowadays,” Witthuhn said. “Sometimes you’ll be here having fun, and then it just hits you. You never know what to expect anymore, and it’s awful.”
Club Q in Colorado Springs and Das Haus in Lincoln have several connections.
Many of the drag queens here travel and perform at Club Q, and vice versa.
So when they heard the news, it affected them personally.
Witthuhn said Club Q was one of the first places where he felt comfortable performing. He said hearing about the shooting was surreal.
“We’ve had such an exchange of talent and it was just heartbreaking to know that that was so close to home,” he said.
On Sunday, Das Haus held a fundraising event called Unapologetically Queer for the shooting victims and their families.
It was a spontaneous event that Ryan Ostendorf helped plan as soon as they heard the news.
Das Haus had performances by drag queens and opened it to the public to raise awareness.
In a statement, the people of Das Haus said the night “was an inspiring reminder that their community will never be broken, no matter how much hate others have toward them.”
“We got to laugh, we got to cry, we got to spend time together,” Ostendorf said. “Just to be with one another after something that’s happened so seriously for our community.”
Das Haus placed five roses in the front window and lit five candles to represent each of the lives lost in Colorado Springs.
The fundraiser raised over $600 for Club Q, which will be sent with letters of love and support.
Ostendorf said it’s hard to see hatred affect drag in negative ways.
He said events like this make the community together stronger, and that’s part of why he loves drag so much.
“It just hits with our community because it feels like it could happen here,” Ostendorf said. “These situations just kind of inspire me to remind myself and to remind others that we are here together.”