For many Missourians who work at or frequent gay and LGBT-friendly bars and clubs, the Orlando massacre was not just a targeted attack against the LGBT community, but a desecration of gay bars and clubs, places that have historically and culturally served as safe gathering spots.
“Queer people find acceptance in these places because it is a physical space where people are encouraged to not just be themselves, but to explore identities, to seek their truest pinnacle of vulnerability and truth without having to worry about their safety,” wrote Joey Saunders, a John Hopkins University graduate student.
Preserving the gay bar as a place of sanctuary and safety is an issue rooted in the modern gay-rights movement. Bar owners across the state say they work hard to maintain the atmosphere of safety and inclusion.
On Monday, Robert “Buddy” Taylor, the owner of Sidekicks Saloon in Kansas City and other local owners of gay bars gathered to plan a joint fundraiser to support the victims and their families in Orlando. Few said they have immediate plans to change security at their establishments, citing feelings of helplessness when it comes to creating security that could prevent such an organized and grand-scale attack.
For many who enjoy spending time at LGBT establishments, gay bars have formerly and will continue to be a place where members of the community can come to feel safe and accepted.
Read more: Kansas City Star