Club Q owner blames ‘groomer’ slurs for new rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate

Club Q co-owner Nic Grzecka is embraced by mourners outside of the Colorado Springs City Hall.

The co-owner of the Colorado LGBTQ+ club, where five people were murdered in a gun attack, says homophobic slurs have “created a new type of hate.”

Club Q co-creator Nic Grzecka said slurs such as “groomer” have created an atmosphere of hate where “it’s different to walk down the street” in a Wednesday (25 November) interview with Associated Press.

He blamed politicians “relating a drag queen to a groomer” for an ever-growing level of misinformed vitriol against the LGBTQ+ community, adding: “I would rather be spit on in the street than get the hate as bad as where we are today.

“Lying about our community and making them into something they are not, creates a different type of hate.”

Shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich – whose lawyers have said uses they/them pronouns – opened fire in the LGBTQ+ club during a Drag event on 19 November, killing five people and injuring many others.

Aldrich was subdued by two bystanders – a trans woman and a military veteran – who reportedly beat them into submission before they were arrested by police.

After the shooting took place, president Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden reached out to the owners to express their sympathy for the horrendous and unnecessary violence.

Club Q co-owners, Nic Grzecka, center left, and Matthew Haynes, center right, attend a press conference held by police in Colorado Springs.

Club Q co-owners, Nic Grzecka, centre left, and Matthew Haynes, centre right, attend a press conference held by police in Colorado Springs. (Getty)

Grzecka said he hopes to start channelling his grief from the incident into figuring out a support system for LGBTQ+ people who attended Club Q.

After becoming co-owner in 2014, along with Matthew Haynes, Grzecka wanted the venue to be a “chosen family” for the local LGBTQ+ community who had nowhere else to turn, hosting Drag bingo nights, Christmas dinners, and birthday celebrations.

He said he wanted to rebuild the “loving culture” that ensures the tragedy is “turned into the best thing it can be for the city.”

“Everybody needs a community,” he added.

124 US anti-drag attacks this year alone

According to LGBTQ+ media nonprofit GLAAD, there have been 124 US anti-drag attacks in 2022 alone.

A report published by the advocacy group reported that 47 states had been the subject of at least one anti-drag attack, with some deriving from armed hate groups.

The Colorado Springs shooting was not included in this list as a motive has not yet been officially declared, but investigations are still ongoing.

Among the top states to have experienced an anti-drag attack, Texas and North Carolina tied for the top with 10 attacks each.

“[The report] showed a pattern of violence and increasing intimidation against the LGBTQ+ community,” GLAAD said in a tweet.