The LGBTQ community gathers for a fundraiser for the victims of the Colorado shooting

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Many members of New Mexico’s LGBTQ community have close ties to Colorado Springs. Now gay bars in Albuquerque are trying to help those affected by this weekend’s mass shooting.

This tragedy has really taken a toll on many members of the queer community, particularly at local gay bar Sidewinders. Club Q was her sister bar, the owners are good friends and business associates and together they plan events in both cities throughout the year.

As you enter Sidewinders, you will be greeted by a small monument. Five white candles are burning under a sign that reads “Never Forget Our Family.”

It was Sunday morning as Sidewinders co-owner Renato Estacio Burdick was scrolling through social media when news of the shooting surfaced on his feed

“I said to myself, is this true, did this really happen so close to my home? At first we couldn’t believe it, I had to check if it was the same Club Q,” said Estacio Burdick. “I picked kids who are out there and are a part of it.”

It was a mad rush to see someone who might have been at Club Q that night.

“We’ve spoken to family members who go there, who are performers there, who have pulled up there to make sure they’re safe,” Estacio Burdick said.

“I immediately turned to my friends and acquaintances up there,” interjected community organizer Daniel Romero.

While most of her friends and family were safe, Estacio Burdick recognized some of the victims.

“One of their employees, he was a victim,” Estacio Burdick said. “He came here and worked with us for PRIDE and other events. So it hit the target too close.”

Daniel Aston, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving and Raymond Green Vance lost their lives on Saturday night.

“Just wow,” said Estacio Burdick, glancing down at his hands before glancing over at Romero and continuing. “It could have been any of our bartenders. That’s the hard part. It could have been any of us. We could have been up there because we have such close ties with them.”

“It was a surge of emotion,” Romero said. “Scared, sad, I started to cry. Then I got to the point where I’m just angry that this is happening again in our community.”

Now Estacio Burdick and Romero are putting their grief into action.

“It’s been amazing to see how much love there is in the community and we’re quickly aligning ourselves and making something happen,” said Romero.

They are planning a memorial and fundraiser in Sidewinders Wednesday to support the victims and their families in Colorado Springs.

“I know it’s Thanksgiving week, but people are rearranging their schedules to make this thing happen,” Romero said. “We will truly make it a celebration of our community coming together under light, love and understanding. We must take steps to protect ourselves and the community at large.”

Sharing love to crush hate.

Doors will open at 7 p.m. Wednesday and all tips and donations will help those in Colorado Springs affected by the Club Q shooting.

If you prefer to donate online rather than in person, consider the Colorado Healing Fund. There are also two verified GoFundMe pages for other victims still recovering, including one from the nonprofit Good Judy Garage and one from a former Club Q employee.

The Albuquerque PFLAG Group will also host a candlelight vigil for all victims of the Club Q shooting on Tuesday, November 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in Morningside Park.