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Kern County LGBTQ+ community reacts to mass shooting in Colorado

The LGBTQ+ community is at the center of a mass shooting in Colorado over the weekend. 23ABC’s Vania Patino spoke with a member of the local LGBTQ+ community and brings us more of their response.
APTOPIX Colorado Springs Shooting Victims
Posted at 4:25 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 21:44:15-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Shocked, that's how many people woke up across the nation to the news of yet another mass shooting. This time in Colorado Springs, and we may not be in Colorado, but those in Kern County feel the pain of the five lives lost this weekend.

Although there isn't an official motive yet, the facts are the shooting happened at an LGBTQ+ nightclub, and Sunday was Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Five people were killed and 25 others were injured in a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, late Saturday night. Authorities said they got their first emergency call about the incident at 11:57 p.m. and an officer arrived at Club Q at midnight.

Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said at least two patrons fought the gunman and subdued him before he was taken into custody at 12:02 a.m.

Police identified the gunman as 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich. He was taken to an area hospital with undisclosed injuries.

Authorities said that of those injured, at least seven were in critical condition.

Vasquez said they recovered two firearms at the club.

Meanwhile, here in Bakersfield, Lee Yoakum is on the board for the Bakersfield LGBTQ+, and like her friends, this brought back painful memories of the shooting in 2016 at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Orlando where 49 people died.

"We were all just in shock. We just felt like it was another Pulse again. Although it happened in Colorado, it affects all of us. Just another attack on the LGBTQ community," said Yoakum. "It does bring up some triggering memories to think that this could definitely happen in Bakersfield, too. Colorado Springs is a small place, and so is Bakersfield, and this can easily happen too."

Yoakum adds there is always a fear when going out, never knowing who you will upset by simply being yourself. And that feeling is too common. According to Galop’s Hate Crime Report from 2021, 64% of LGBTQ people had experienced anti-LGBTQ+ violence or abuse. And 41 % of trans people have experienced a hate crime due to gender identity.


Those may sound just like statistics, but the experiences are very real, even in the Kern County community.

"Our safety and our children's safety comes first, and we always want to make sure we are looking around because even us just holding hands make trigger someone in a regular light," said Yoakum.

This in response to Yoakum going out with her wife of 10 years. Adding the community keeps each other safe.

"The conversations with others to spread what is safe and what is not safe, or what we have seen, have also been present," added Yoakum.

23ABC IN-DEPTH: Anti-LGBTQ+ Hate Crimes in the United States

The FBI's latest official statistics from 2020 show a total of 478 reported crimes. That's up from 378 the year prior and 362 in 2018. In 2020, most of these crimes occurred in the victims' own homes with 121 incidents. The next most common place was on public streets and walkways.

In California, A 2021 report by the state Department of Justice found hate crimes involving sexual orientation rose 47.8 percent from 205 in 2020 to 303 last year. Incidents involving anti-gay bias rose from 162 to 211, a 30.2 percent increase from 2020 to 2021. Anti-homosexual hate crimes rose from 21 to 61 during that same time period. And anti-lesbian hate crimes increased from 18 to 27 from 2020 to 2021.

For David Madding, The Center for Sexuality and Gender Identity in Bakersfield is special.

"I know when I was a kid growing up in a place like Bakersfield, we didn’t have anything like this," said Madding, who also serves as The Center's volunteer coordinator.

Madding says after he heard the news of the shooting, he first felt sorrow, then anger, and now, resolve.

"An absolute resolve that we have to change our communities for the better so that a senseless act of violence can never happen again anywhere."

LGBTQIA+ community of Kern County shares Colorado Springs' grief

Madding says a part of making change is speaking with local elected officials and asking them to take a stance against this violence.

"A prerequisite to compassion is not understanding. You do not have to understand who somebody is. The intricacies of their identity to show compassion, to show respect, to recognize that they are a person of integrity and worth just as you are."