The owner and patron of South Fla’s LGBTQ+ bar. reflects on Colorado nightclub shooting

A a mass shooting claimed the lives of five people and injured at least 25 other people at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the first openly gay man elected governor in the United States, decried the fatal shooting as “a horrifying and devastating extension”.

Closer to home in South Florida, LBGTQ+ residents and leaders said they felt the same way.

Ron Amodio, the owner of the Mad Hatter Lounge in Lake Worth Beach, told WPTV he was shocked that a shooting at a gay nightclub had happened yet.

“It’s unbelievable that there is so much hate,” Amodio said.

Mad Hatter is a popular bar for the LGBTQ+ community. Amodio said he celebrated his 10th birthday on Sunday. It was a happy day with a full bar, but he still said Saturday night’s shoot in Colorado loomed in the shadows.

“It’s unbelievable that there’s so much hate,” said Ron Amodio, owner of the Mad Hatter Lounge in Lake Worth Beach, after another mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ nightclub, this time in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We had some doubts about it,” Amodio said.

Safety issues are a heartbreaking reality that many members of the LGBTQ+ community face every day.

“Every time I come here I always have this in mind, I’m not going to lie,” said customer Leo Hedlund. “I always look at exits, where is closest to me every time I come here, just because we have to be aware of that. But that’s not going to stop me from living my life, because I shouldn’t be afraid to live my life because someone else doesn’t understand it or someone else doesn’t agree with it.”

Compass Community Center leaders sent this statement to WPTV:

“News of the LGBTQ community shooting in Colorado is sudden horror that follows years of heightened rhetorical and legislative attacks targeting LGBTQ people. We are deeply saddened for the friends and families who have lost loved ones. dear in this senseless act of violence and hatred.

When an armed individual opened fire Saturday night at Club Q in Colorado Springs last night, he was looking to eradicate the safe spaces where our community goes to relax, be together and exist. More than 50 years ago, the Stonewall Riots were a reaction to endless police raids and abuses suffered by our community. Today, our Pride celebrations are our response to those who attempt to silence us and erase our ability to live in a free society.

The LGBTQ community has never allowed hate, bigotry, ignorance or judgment to define us, belittle us or destroy us, and we won’t start now. Those who wish to drown us in darkness will find that the bright and bold colors of our inclusive rainbow flag will not fade.

Today is Transgender Remembrance Day; when we stop to recognize those who were killed for no other reason than their authentic life did not fit someone else’s rigid dogma. We condemn all acts of violence and seek to work towards a time when this senselessness is a thing of the past.”

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