ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The LGBTQ+ community in Tampa Bay is expressing solidarity with Club Q, an LGBTQ+ club in Colorado Springs that came under attack on Saturday.
"It affects you as a person first and foremost, especially as a person of the community that was targeted in this instance," said David Fischer, the owner of Cocktail St. Pete, a new, popular gay bar in St. Petersburg.
On Sunday night, his club posted online: "We are deeply saddened for those at @clubqcoloradosprings and the community of Colorado Springs who were victims of this horrific act of violence! Our heavy hearts are with the loved ones of this involved. There is no room for hate in our community! #coloradospringsstrong"
Fischer said safety at his club has always been a top priority, and what happened in Colorado Springs is a reminder of why.
"This is a safe space for gay and LGBTQ people," Fischer said, "so it's important to add that layer of security, I believe."
Cocktail is one of the few bars along St. Pete's popular Central Avenue which uses a metal detector.
"We get a lot of flack about it. It takes some time to get in when you're coming, but we feel it's for the right reasons," Fischer said.
Part of Fischer's commitment to safety stems from his life experience. He was living in Orlando in 2016 when a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding 53 more.
"I had been in that bar many times," Fischer said. "I wasn't there that evening, but obviously I knew people affected by that incident."
A 2020 study from the Williams Institute shows LGBTQ+ people are nearly four times more likely than non-LGBTQ+ people to be victims of violent crime.
But patrons at Cocktail on Monday said they would fight hate with fortitude, filling clubs like it without fear.
"We all can't be scared. We have to come out and about and live our lives," said Jason Grimm, a patron.
Other local groups have spoken out in support of Club Q since Saturday's mass shooting.
The Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber posted on Facebook Sunday, saying, "The Tampa Bay LGBT Chamber stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs. We send our condolences to the loved ones of those harmed and the Colorado LGBTQ community."
Tampa Police Department was among the local organizations who shared their condolences on social media Sunday, writing, "Our hearts are heavy as we send our thoughts and prayers to Colorado Springs in the wake of the massacre that occurred at Club Q Saturday night.