DETROIT (WXYZ) — Gay bars and nightclubs are supposed to be safe spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. However, after the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, safety in queer public spaces is being re-evaluated.
Randy Markoz-Santiago is the bar manager at Gigi’s, one of the oldest gay nightclubs in Detroit. It’s a bar, nightclub, and performance venue welcoming people of every stripe.
Stepping into Gigi’s is stepping into a world of color, creativity, and whimsy…a stark contrast to the horror of what happened in Colorado Springs.
“I feel like it’s opening people’s eyes that there’s still hate out there. But all we can do is keep spreading positivity and love and not the negative,” said Markoz-Santiago.
He said society has come a long way, but that doesn’t mean full acceptance.
“I wouldn’t walk around Detroit, Hart Plaza, or anywhere holding hands with my husband or kissing him, like walking down the street. Unless it’s gay pride. That’s the only time I feel comfortable,” admitted Markoz-Santiago.
He said it’s not fair, but it’s the world right now.
Luis Mandugano is the owner of Gigi’s.
“My initial reaction to the Colorado incident is one of heartbreak and one of anger,” said Mandugano.
He explained he’s angry about the rhetoric toward the LGBTQ+ community these days. As a nightclub owner, the shooting has him worried about safety.
“We already have security in our parking lot, at our front door, but do I need to expand that security? Do I need to unfortunately bring in security that might be armed?” asked Mandugano.
Still, he has a message for the public.
“We want you to understand that we speak the language of love. Hatred is something that we frown upon and we try to avoid,” Mandugano said.
Dominic BluTick is a queer Detroit entertainer. He knows some people might not understand why places like nightclubs and bars are so important to the gay community.
“It may seem like they’re just going to get drunk but it’s not just that for us. It’s a place to commune because churches have neglected us, because schools have neglected us, because there’s been times when the government wouldn’t do anything for us. So this is what we’ve had,” said BluTick.
He doesn’t feel knocked down by the present moment.
“I feel more confident now because we have so many voices, we have so many public figures, we have so many entertainers that are willing to speak up for us now. So I’m not afraid, I’m just hoping that my people stay strong,” BluTick said.