COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Haylea Turner meandered along the makeshift memorial of flower bouquets and handwritten notes outside Club Q late Monday morning with her black Lab mix, Olive, in tow. The sidewalk teeming with mourners and news crews, Turner recalled the fun she used to have there.

Club Q boasted theme nights that made each night different and, no matter who was on stage or who you were dancing with, Club Q was a safe place to be, she said.

“The one constant was that overwhelming sense of love,” she said. “Everybody was just so welcoming.”

Turner, 24, has been going to the LGBTQ+ nightclub — a rarity in conservative Colorado Springs — since she was 18. Although the bar served alcohol, it was open to anyone 18 or older.

“It’s one of the only places that was 18+ and that was so important to young people,” she said. “You can’t find where you belong in high school, but you could go to Club Q and discover who you are and where you fit in the world.”

Then, the shooting happened.

Just before midnight Saturday, authorities say a gunman opened fire on Club Q employees and patrons, shooting 22 people and killing five. Two of Turner’s friends were at Club Q when the shooting broke out, she said.

“It used to feel like we were making great strides toward progress. And now we keep taking strides back,” Turner said. “So more than ever, it was important to get together there and show that we mattered, that we were a community.”

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Before Saturday’s tragedy, Alex Gallagher considered Club Q “a home away from home,” she said Monday, standing outside the club’s growing memorial.

A regular patron of Club Q who was set to make her performance debut there Dec. 4, Gallagher was at the club Saturday night and left roughly 20 minutes before the shooting occurred, she told USA TODAY. In a frantic call from her friend later that night, she learned of the club’s fate — going from being packed with patrons and drag performers to cordoned off with police tape.

While Colorado Springs’ population has exploded in recent decades and its LGBTQ+ community has followed suit, queer spaces have struggled to keep pace.

In 2005, after 36 years in business, the city’s Hide n’ Seek LGBTQ+ nightclub shuttered over fire code violations and the threat of eviction, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.

In 2015, the Colorado Springs Pride Center, a fixture in the community that provided resources for LGBTQ+ residents for 37 years, closed over financial woes.