MISSOULA — The Missoula center hosted a Queersgiving at Burn Street Bistro as a safe place for members of the LGBTQ+ community to gather for a meal.
The event comes at a shaky time for the community as the grief is fresh from last weekend’s shooting in Colorado Springs.
Queersgiving was created by University of Montana students in partnership with The Center. This is the first queersgiving event in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Center board member David Herrera says he’s excited for the event but knows it will feel different given the violence in Colorado.
“I’m delighted that we can come back to do it after three years of not doing it during the pandemic and still be very aware that it’s being overshadowed by the tragedy that just happened,” he said.
“This is not a time for us to necessarily celebrate in the way we would like because it is a time when we need to recognize that we still live in a society where people really think we killed.” should be, and people really hate us. ‘ Herrera added.
Board member Ryan Kellan Jean says despite the hate, they hope to continue to see public support in the community.
“As you know, continuing to have community gatherings outside in these public places really shows that we are not afraid, that we are strong and that we will carry on and endure.”
The center hosts queersgiving because it wants to provide a safe holiday environment for LGBTQ+ people.
“A lot of queersfolk and transgender, people who identify as LGBT are alienated from their biological families,” Kellan Jean told Selected Families, and you know, you can still experience the holidays and enjoy this time.”
The holidays can be tough for anyone, but Herrera says they can be particularly damaging to LGBTQ+ people.
“For the LGBTQ community, who tend to have higher rates of depression and higher rates of suicide, the holidays are becoming a very challenging time of year,” he told MTN News. “So people really need to make sure they have a support system in place, that they have friends to talk to.”
Herrera says they plan to hold a minute’s silence at Queersgiving for those lost in Colorado and will reach out to Montana lawmakers to protect their community.
“We need to stop demonizing people that we don’t necessarily agree with,” he says. “We will reach out to our lawmakers to offer solutions…what can we do here in our own state to prevent the kind of tragedies that are happening in Montana?”
To learn more about the Center’s events or to make a donation, visit the website. Information on how you can help people in Colorado can be found here.