New Jersey LGBTQ leaders mourn and fight for Club Q victims

Club Q victims names and age graphic

LGBTQ communities across the nation continue to mourn over the victims and those impacted by the Colorado Springs Club Q shooting. In New Jersey, LGBTQ communities, allies and supporting organizations are voicing their grievances and calling for immediate action.  

“We are heartbroken to learn of another senseless attack against our community — on the eve of a day we remember all those in our trans community who have lost their lives to violence, no less,” Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality (GSE) said. “It is a stark reminder that despite the progress the LGBTQ+ community has made, the threat of discrimination and violence against us just for being who we are is still very real.”  

Club Q was celebrating Transgender Day of Rememberence on the late night of Saturday Nov. 19 into the morning of Sunday, Nov. 20 when the assailent, armed with multiple firearms, open fired an AK-style rifle, killing five people — 38 year-old Derrick Rump, 28 year-old Daniel Aston, 40 year-old Kelly Loving, 35 year-old Ashley Paugh and 22 year-old Raymond Green Vance. At least 18 other people were injured that night. 

In Asbury Park, members of the LGBTQ community and allies gathered on Monday, Nov. 21 outside of Q Spot, a local LGBTQ communty center. There, crowds spoke about how they stand with those impacted. 

“A hate crime is not just perpetuated on the people that it impacts directly, it really impacts all of us,” Cathy Renna, Communications Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force said. “It instills a sense of fear, loss of safety, sadness — it’s meant to do that too. It’s a message to anyone who’s like the group that’s targeted, whether it’s LGBTQ people, Jewish people, women, people of color, etc.” 

Renna, who attended and spoke at the Asbury Park vigil, said that LGBTQ hate has escalated to the national level at an unimaginable rate, especially since the inauguration of former President Donald Trump. Shortly after being sworn in, federal agency websites were scrubbed of nearly all LGBTQ mentions. 

“The motive here is clear,” Renna said. “There literally is an orchestrated campaign trying to erase us.” 

The escalation and erasure has been amplified by anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation, such as the infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, that targets school-aged LGBTQ youth in Florida. Since the state enacted the controversial piece of legislation in March of this year, other states have looked into imposing their own version of a similar bill. 

​​”You’ve seen literally hundreds of pieces of legislation that target LGBTQ people, particularly trans people, particularly trans youth, and the impact of that is very clear,” Renna said. “No part of the country is immune to this, especially as more and more of us are out.” 

At the Asbury Park vigil, community members called upon local, state, and federal legislation to provide further protections and safety measures for the LGBTQ community, to help prevent these hateful tragedies from continually occurring. Specifically, Q Spot’s Executive Director, John Miyktuck, called upon the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the state Attorney General’s Office to provide funding under the New Jersey Nonprofit Security Grant Program, a grant that could provide up to $20,000 to offset the cost of guards and up to $50,000 for the installation and purchase of security equipment.

“Over 250 people each week come to QSpot Center for vital support services and social engagement,” he said. “We must do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of each person who walks through our doors.”

While New Jersey’s LGBTQ community continues to mourn and stand in solidarity with Club Q, the community is also hoping for leaders to step up, and address the legislative concerns believed to be aiding the violence. 

“It is time for us to get past the sad and shocking emojis and telling the LGBTQI+ community how horrific these hate crimes are and they’re with us,” Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Garden State Equality Action Fund Board Chair said. “It is way overdue for everyone who believes in civil rights and social justice to call out these despicable acts from their pulpits, boardrooms, social media platforms, and the like. These heinous acts are not LGBTQI+ issues; they’re humanitarian issues. We need everyone to step up.”