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November 25th 2022

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In Solidarity; A Community Vigil Honouring Colorado Victims and Survivors 

Press Release
Friday, November 25, 2022
Toronto, ON

On Saturday, November 19, a fatal attack took place at Club Q, a 2SLGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado, USA. Five people were killed, 18+ injured, and a safe and sacred community space was destroyed. Pride Toronto and The 519 are co-hosting a community vigil to bring people together in solidarity with our communities and allies in Colorado.

The vigil will take place at The 519 Ballroom [519 Church St.] on Sunday, November 27, 2022 from 12:30 to 2pm. The 519 is an accessible space with a ramp, an elevator, and all-gender washrooms.

The attack took place on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day when our communities comes together to honour 2 Spirit, trans, and non-binary lives that have been taken from us. The horrific events of November 19 have only heightened the trauma and tragedy that our communities face and the need for safer and protected spaces. “We are again reminded about how discrimination, hate, and violence against 2SLGBTQ+ people remains a sad reality that we must contend with every day,” says Sherwin Modeste (he/him), Executive Director, Pride Toronto.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, hate crimes targeting 2SLGBTQ+ communities was up 41% – the highest since 2009 – more than half of which were violent crimes (Egale, 2021).  A Trans Pulse Study (2020) showed that racialized trans and non-binary respondents experience higher levels of violence and harassment, even when compared to already high levels among non-racialized respondents.

We know Canada is not immune. Our bars, nightclubs, and beaches are sacred spaces where we can feel safe expressing our whole authentic selves. 2 Spirit, queer,  and trans communities deserve safety everywhere, not merely safe spaces. Trans lives matter, black trans lives matter, trans health matters, trans safety matters.

We mourn the lives taken, and extend our deepest condolences to the loved ones impacted by this tragedy. We also acknowledge the heroism that several club patrons displayed in stopping the gunman and preventing more lives from being taken. Even in the face of death, our communities stepped up to fight and protect each other.

Too many lives have been stolen from 2SLGBTQ+ communities for far too long. We deserve to live and thrive without fear of hatred, violence, and death. We call on all levels of government to work with us to protect our communities from hate crimes and all other forms of hate. Allyship is an ongoing action we must commit to daily so that nobody is left behind.

While we hold space for grief in our hearts, we must remember there is strength in community. We have always existed and will continue to rally against the hate that tries to erase us.

 

NOTE TO THE MEDIA:

While the media is free to join in the vigil to participate and/or record b-roll only, they are requested to respect the sanctity of the space as well as people’s right to grieve and/or be fully present. Interviews can be facilitated in a separate room in the building. As an additional support for our communities, a death doula will be present outside the ballroom to help folks sit with and process their feelings.

Quotes:

“Toronto’s 2SLGBTQ+ communities grieve the deaths of Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump. The violent attack at Club Q is yet another sad reminder that the work to protect 2SLGBTQ+ people in Canada and around the world is far from over. Hateful rhetoric and physical violence remains an ever-present and rising threat which demands meaningful action by our elected leaders to address.”

– Grant Gonzales (he/him), Co-Chair of the Board of Directors, Pride Toronto

*

“Hate has no place in anyone’s village. This heinous attack on Club Q is the direct result of a rise in hatred, bias, and inequities that exist within governance impacting queer and specifically trans people, as well as legislation resulting in easy access to weaponry. We know Canada isn’t immune. Our politicians and policymakers must go beyond “thoughts and prayers” and commit to actionable justice and recourse. Queer, trans, and non-binary communities deserve safety everywhere, not merely safe spaces. Trans lives matter, black trans lives matter, trans health matters, trans safety matters.

My heart goes out to the grieving friends and families of all the victims of the Club Q attack. Queer, trans and non-binary people everywhere, including here in Toronto, have been impacted by this crime. Organizations like Pride Toronto and The 519 will continue to advocate for our communities’ right to exist and thrive, and in our despair, they remind us that we are not alone. While we hold space for grief in our hearts, we must remember there is strength in community. We have always existed and will continue to rally against the hatred that tries to erase us.”

– Tom Spence (he/him), Vice-Chair of the Board of Management, The 519

*

“Together with our communities, The 519 mourns the lives lost in the horrific hate-motivated attack in Colorado. It is unimaginable that hatred and violence unfold within one of our few safe community spaces. They will never be forgotten. In solidarity we will fight every day in their memory and in the memory those we have lost to violence in our own communities in Toronto. We will fight until we are all free to live our lives openly, proudly, and safely in every space and place in this world. We will rejoice and celebrate in our resistance and bravery and the full beauty and power that our 2SLGBTQ+ communities exude here, and around the world every day.”

– Maura Lawless (she/her), Executive Director, The 519

About The 519:

Since 1976, The 519 has served as a valuable and vibrant hub for 2SLGBTQ+ communities in Toronto and beyond, as well as for residents of Toronto’s Church and Wellesley neighbourhood. As Canada’s most prominent 2SLGBTQ+ community centre and service provider, it has been an affirming first touchpoint for many queer, trans and two-spirit folks looking to find community.

Learn more at www.The519.org and follow @The519 on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

About Pride Toronto:

Pride Toronto is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to bring people together to celebrate the history, courage and diversity of our community. Uniting and empowering people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, the annual Pride Toronto festival has become a major Canadian arts and cultural event and the largest Pride celebration in North America. Pride showcases Toronto on the world stage with diversity, inclusion and vibrant creativity.

For further news and related updates, visit PrideToronto.com and follow @PrideToronto on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. #PrideTO

Media Contacts:

Pride Toronto Media Relations: Communication@PrideToronto.com

The 519 Media Relations:
Dean Lobo (he/him)
Communications Coordinator
DLobo@The519.org | 647-884-7019

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