• Many said the attack confirmed their fears that growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months and ongoing threats against LGBTQ Americans could mean they and their community are once again at risk of violence or other dangers.
  • “That has an impact that not just for the family and friends of the direct victims, but it affects that entire community,” said the family members of a victim of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
  • Chris Hansen, a Pulse shooting survivor, told USA TODAY he hasn’t slept since learning about the Club Q shooting.

When Christine Leinonen woke up Sunday morning to a spray of texts from loved ones who said they were thinking of her, she was initially confused.

But once she turned on her television and saw a press conference detailing a mass shooting Saturday night at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Leinonen put the pieces together quickly. Her son, Drew Leinonen, died from a mass shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub Pulse in 2016 in Florida.

“Everything comes flooding back,” Leinonen told USA TODAY over the phone. She recalled driving at a high speed to Orlando, waiting desperately at the hospital for news of her son, hearing the horrible news he was gone.

The terror and the grief after the fatal shooting Saturday that left five dead and two dozen injured has become devastatingly familiar for the LGBTQ community and their loved ones. Many said the attack confirmed their fears that growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric in recent months and ongoing threats against LGBTQ Americans could mean they and their community are once again at risk of violence or other dangers. 

LGBTQ advocacy group leaders, activists and survivors from the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting spoke to USA TODAY about Club Q and the painful emotions the latest mass shooting brings to an already fearful LGBTQ community, many of whom struggle to feel fully safe even in their own accepting spaces.

“They go through their lives being marginalized anyway, and then to be targeted …” Leinonen said, trailing off. “That has an impact not just for the family and friends of the direct victims, but it affects that entire community.”

Club Q shooting updates:5 dead, 18 injured in shooting at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs

Pulse nightclub survivor urges Club Q survivors not to ‘stay in the dark’

The Club Q shooting brought back traumatic memories for Leionen and other family members of the victims of the Pulse shooting, as well as survivors. During that attack, a shooter opened fire at the venue, killing 49 people and injuring more than 50 others in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at the time.

“From Pulse to Colorado Springs to so many other lives stolen from us— this has occurred for far too long,” Human Rights Campaign incoming president Kelley Robinson said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Leinonen said she worries about more grief and painful healing for an already marginalized LGBTQ community.

“Mothers and fathers and siblings and children, I mean, whole communities are affected,” she said. “They’re in for a horrible rest of their lives … we’ve created a hell for a whole other group of Americans.”