Hours before filming began in Colorado, an LGBTQ+ club in Salt Lake City celebrated trans life. Now it increases security.

Breaking down barriers was the theme of Saturday night’s event at Club Verse.

Salt Lake City’s new LGBTQ+ bar had opened just weeks earlier, but had to have gender-specific restrooms due to state building code requirements. So late Saturday Ahead of Transgender Remembrance Day, the club invited local transgender advocates, who rallied to tear down the partition separating the men’s and women’s restrooms and create one large all-gender restroom in protest.

“When it comes to liking Trans Awareness Week, we never really have a lot of representatives, or it’s just really quiet,” Nicole “Treasure” Linch told the crowd around 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

“I think we should not only celebrate the lives of those who have died because of the horrific violence in the transgender community,” she continued, “but also celebrate the lives of the people who are still here fighting this fight. “

A little over an hour after Linch and others then used sledgehammers In a bid to tear down the club’s bathroom wall, a 22-year-old gunman opened fire at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub similar to Verse in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing 5 people and injuring 18 others.

New security measures

On Saturday, Club Verse attendees were greeted outside by a bouncer ahead of the scheduled event. They then gave their IDs to an employee inside before being waved at with a metal identification baton.

Now the club is installing a metal detector at the club’s entrance – the same device owner Michael Repp said he once used at The Sun Trapp, the LGBTQ+ shuttered bar he and his husband used to own.

“We thought maybe – just maybe – past everything that’s happening in a really, really bad light, we’d moved back to a gay bar. We thought Pulse taught us all a few things about safety and everything,” Repp said Monday. “I think now we know that we’re actually a purposeful community.”

Repp said he has a responsibility to protect not just his staff, but everyone who attends the club “whether they’re queer or not.” Because of this, its security staff consists of either ex-police officers or individuals currently certified by the police but not held by a local police department.

He now intends to send them to “aggressive gunman confrontation training” being conducted by a local FBI agent, he said Monday. This comes after the bar was closed to Sunday night patrons following the Colorado mass shooting.

“The things that are within our reach we can do quickly – it will be the 3, 6, 12 month mark where people will be more relaxed. And we can’t afford that,” said Repp.

A day of mourning

Repp had hoped Saturday’s event at Club Verse would help connect the transgender community and other local LGBTQ+ people, as there is often a “line of demarcation and intolerance between communities within the trans community.”

It was intentionally held on the night before Transgender Day of Remembrance, the conclusion of a week aimed at raising awareness of the transgender community.

Now Repp must add more casualties to a wall he had already planned at the club to honor the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that left 49 dead and 53 others wounded.

“This is our second round with a gun,” Repp said, referring to Pulse and now Club Q. “This person certainly picked a very horrible day to make his deal. … He sidelined that day of mourning for a lot of people, which is really, really sad.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) People gather at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, November 21, 2022 for a candlelight vigil for victims of a shooting in Colorado Springs.

Linch hopes transgender and non-binary people will be more celebrated in the community, noting that many LGBTQ+ events cater to cisgender gay women and men.

“I never got it all together as a cisgender gay man — I came to the bar, I drank my drink, I went home, crawled into bed and went to sleep,” Repp said. “Where Nicole came to the bar, looked around before she got out of her car, trotted to the door, walked in, had a drink or two and met up with four or five friends – so that when they go out, they’re in a group. “

Saturday night’s wall collapse was a step toward a world where Linch wouldn’t have to go through all those extra steps just to feel safe, she said.

“I’m a wife and I’m a mother of the cutest little boy. I’m a sister, I’m a friend and I’m a daughter,” Linch told the Club Verse crowd on Saturday night.

“When I see him grow,” she said of her son, “it worries me because I think at any moment he can witness the hate we’re going through in our community and as people in general because to this day trans lives are not accepted. And we are coerced with discrimination, violence and murder.”

“Not a day goes by that I don’t walk out of my house and just have this simple thought, ‘I can’t come home today,'” she said.

https://www.sltrib.com/news/2022/11/22/hours-before-colorado-shooting/ Hours before filming began in Colorado, an LGBTQ+ club in Salt Lake City celebrated trans life. Now it increases security.

Justin Scacco

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