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'We're not cowering in fear': Club Q survivors selected as grand marshals for Denver Pride Parade

Denver Pride takes place on June 24 and 25
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Posted at 7:00 PM, Jun 14, 2023

Just before Thanksgiving in 2022, five people were killed and more than a dozen others injured after a mass shooting inside Club Q, an LGBTQ space in Colorado Springs.

Michael Anderson was working behind the bar on the night of the shooting.

“Things were so simple in November, and then suddenly, they weren't simple at all anymore," said Anderson. “The biggest change has been the illusion of safety that I felt.”

In the months that followed, Anderson has struggled to restore that sense of safety but is not sure if or when it will be possible. The shooting has completely changed how he celebrates Pride Month this year.

“I have this hyper-vigilance and hyper-awareness, which, you know, I don't know if that will ever go away," Anderson said.

In spite of the fear, Anderson has attended Pride celebrations throughout the country. The Pride Parade in Denver will be particularly special.

“We have decided to honor survivors of Club Q as grand marshals in the parade this year," said Rex Fuller, the CEO of The Center on Colfax. The Center on Colfax produces the parade and festival each year and designates grand marshals who are at the front of the parade.

Club Q victims to be honored at Denver Pride Fest

“It's not Club Q that's the grand marshal. It's the community. It's the survivors. It's the victims. It's the families of those that lost someone that night. All of us are going to come together, and it's going to be a beautiful display, I think of the strength of just vigilance of fighting back and not being afraid," Anderson said.

Anderson said he has reached out to all of the Club Q survivors to invite them to the parade. Some are not sure if they will attend in the grand marshal role.

Ashtin Gamblin was working the front door of Club Q on the night of the shooting. She was shot nine times.

“It's definitely been a roller coaster. There really isn't time to cope with anything," Gamblin said about the last several months.

Gamblin is one of the Club Q survivors who does not believe the building should be remodeled and is frustrated by how the money raised is being used.

“I could care less what happens to the building, demo it, leave it vacant, I don't care. Where my friends died is not somewhere where a bar in a party situation needs to be happening," Gamblin said.

The Center on Colfax said the other grand marshals include the Imperial Court of the Rocky Mountain Empire, PFLAG, Denver Councilwoman at-large Robin Kniech, and Inside Out Youth Services.

Denver Pride takes place on June 24 and 25.

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