Parallels unite a community at Armed with Love event

News  /  Village

Image of person at ClubQ looking at memorial items

“You’re not alone.”

The phrase echoed throughout Palmer Park on several occasions at Nov. 26 during Armed with Love’s rally and march.

The rally occurred less than a week after a shooter killed five and injured 18 others on Nov. 19 at Club Q, on which is about a mile north of Palmer Park.

Attendees trickled in later in the afternoon blossoming from about 50 eventgoers in the morning to more than 200 people showing support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Some attendees traveled from far in state or event in from out-of-state.

Speakers from the Aurora Theater shooting, which occurred on July 20, 2012, and the Pulse shooting that happened June 12, 2016, attended the event to support Club Q survivors.

One of the organizers, Jax Dickinson, said Armed with Love, wanted to highlight that the LGBTQ+ community is more than “the tragedies in the news” and they won’t backdown from “someone who is threatened by our joy.”

“We are going to reclaim our joy,” Dickinson said. “We aren’t going to package things up nicely for everyone else, so they don’t have to see us in our amazing brightness. When we take the safe spaces we’ve been given, we’ve made those as amazing as we can and nurtured and cultivated them.

“We need to be safe walking in our communities and neighborhoods. And everywhere should be for us. We won’t be stifled and will not give up our joy.”

Eventgoers created signs for a march up to Club Q, which occurred toward the end of the event, displaying their support for Kelly Loving, Raymond Green Vance, Derrick Rump, Daniel Aston and Ashley Paugh.

“Love beats hate,” “Peace not war,” “Protect kids, not guns,” were among the sea signs created at Palmer Park.

Michael Anderson, a Club Q employee who survived the event “by the grace of God without a scratch,” said he was thankful the community supported him, as well his friends who either died, were injured, or left with mental scars.

“To be here with all these people who I’ve never met them but have love for all of us who were there that night and my friends and co-workers who passed is heartwarming,” Anderson said. “It shows me that love does conquer hate in the end.”

Anderson returned to Club Q on Nov. 25 to visit the memorial, but felt some discomfort reminiscing about his experience.

“It was difficult to walk around and see where I thought I was going to die and have to relive that for a moment,” Anderson said. “But it made me extremely grateful to be here today and support the whole community.”

Tiara Parker had a similar moment of déjà vu upon learning about the Club Q shooting.

Parker, who survived the Pulse club shooting after three gunshot wounds, learned of the Club Q shooting from an Apple News alert at her home in Philadelphia.

“I got a notification on my phone around 2 o’clock in the morning,” Parker said. “When I saw it, it brought back memories. The whole scene looked exactly like when the news article came out about Pulse. The only difference is the location and the amount of people [shot and injured].”

Parker was shot in her left abdomen, breast, arm and was grazed on her left hip.

Parker said she’d rather “be a victor than a victim” regarding the Pulse shooting, which is why she attended Armed with Loves rally.

“There’s a different type of love when it’s survivor to survivor,” Parker said. “I let them know how to process what’s going on. I let them know ‘If you need a moment, stop.’ There are steps and ways to get through this tragedy and you are not alone.”

Chelsea Lyn Sobolik wanted to show Club Q survivors they’re not alone just how her community did after July 20, 2012.

Sobolik was one in a group of 17 who attended the primer of “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012.

The showing ended early after a shooter fired in the theater injuring 70 and killing 12 others.

Sobolik was one of four of her friends who physically unharmed though several of her friends were “critically injured.” Her friend, Alex Sullivan, died in the theater on his 27th birthday.

After the shooting, a group of survivors from the Columbine High School shooting, which occurred April 20, 1999, in Littleton, reached out to Sobolik and her friends.

The group, The Rebel Project, aided Sobolik and her friends through their trauma from the tragic night.

Sobolik joined the group for five years and said she wants to aid Club Q survivors how Rebel Project assisted her.

“A lot of people don’t understand the shock lasts a longer than you might realize,” Sobolik said. “When we come out of shock and start feeling things six, nine, 12[months] or even years later, that’s when we really need help. That’s when we need those check-ins and support.”

The long-term support from near and far is what Dickinson hopes comes from the event and in the aftermath of the Club Q shooting.

Dickinson doesn’t want the shooting to run through a news cycle and end abruptly, they hope the rally Nov. 26 is the genesis of support in Colorado Springs.

“We’re not asking too much. We’re asking to be loved openly by our society,” Dickinson said. “We’re asking for people to shred their neutrality and claim the love for us and for all people regardless of their gender, their sexuality and to embrace us openly. Not once a year during pride.”

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