Kim Petras says gay clubs were ‘safe space’ when she was growing up: ‘The only place I feel free’

Kim Petras (L) and Melissa Etheridge (R) on Colorado Springs shooting. (Getty)

Musicians Kim Petras and Melissa Etheridge have reflected on their first gay bar experiences in light of Colorado Springs shooting tragedy. 

The mass shooting at gay club, Club Q, in Colorado Springs, which left five dead and 25 injured, happened hours before the American Music Awards (AMAs).
The victims included trans and queer people from the local community and is the deadliest attack on an LGBTQ+ club this year – as attacks across the US continue.

When asked by Variety about her own experiences with gay bars, trans artists Petras replied: “I’m someone who has needed gay clubs since I was a child to feel like I belong anywhere and to hear the music that I wanted to hear and be around people the see me for who I am.

“That was my safe place as a trans girl, as a teenager, as someone who didn’t fit in.”

After calling for stricter gun control, she added: “The only place where I feel accepted and free is a gay club. Something needs to be done.”

Petras started her gender transition aged 12 and has since made her mark on the music industry, most recently collaborating with Sam Smith making them the first non-binary and trans artists to top the US Billboard 100.

Meanwhile gay American singer-songwriter Etheridge also opened up about her first time in a gay club at Boston nightclub The Prelude in 1979. 

Melissa Etheridge (R) with partner Linda Wallem. (Sarah Morris/FilmMagic)

Melissa Etheridge (R) with partner Linda Wallem at the American Music Awards. (Sarah Morris/FilmMagic)

“It was frightening,” Etheridge told the publication, “but the second time I went in, I was like, ‘OK my people. I’m home.

“My love goes out to all my brothers and sisters in Colorado Springs.

“This problem we have in our society – the fear of others – is an epidemic and a disease. To say that people who are different are to be feared created this sort of event.”

Etheridge came out publicly in 1993 and has gone on to win two Grammys, and an Oscar for Best Original Song. As well as documenting her experiences with breast cancer and losing her son at age 21. 

Speaking to PinkNews in 2011, she spoke about her experiences coming out: “No one knew quite what to do about it but no one was homophobic. Everyone knew I was gay. They knew my girlfriend. 

“They knew where I’d come from too because Chris Blackwell [former record producer] was in a lesbian bar when he found me. I remember having the conversation with him. He looked at me and said, ‘I don’t ever want you to lie, but maybe don’t flag wave.'”

Both Etheridge and Petras joined singer Dove Cameron to condemn the shooting during the AMAs, with Cameron making a heartfelt acceptance speech honouring the victims.

I want to direct your attention toward organisations like GLAAD and The Trevor Project for what you can do right now,” Cameron said at the awards.

“I want to remind you that you are made absolutely right, and you are so loved and so held.”

Tributes poured in from other artists, including Mae Martin who called out the increasingly deadly culture being fostered for the LGBTQ+ community.