SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Emotions are still running high at a Springfield nightclub following the news of a deadly shooting in Colorado.
Last week, five people were killed in Colorado Springs at an LGBTQ+ nightclub. Locally, staff members at Martha’s Vineyard, a club known for its drag shows, hope the violence will end.
“It almost knocks the breath back out of you,” said Talent and Event Coordinator Robert Hazlette.
“I’m not worried for me, but I’m worried for those kids that are taking their first steps into being who they are. How far back that set them.”
Martha’s Vineyard opened back in 1994. Staff members said they don’t want anyone to ever feel scared coming through the doors.
“Our entire mantra from the inception has always been that it doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from, what your goals are,” said Talent and Event Manager Devon Morris. “You are welcome here, you are wanted here, and you are safe here.”
Hearing about the Colorado shooting, Morris said, immediately made her think of everyone she knows at Martha’s.
“My staff, all of my entertainers, a lot of my regulars, people that I’ve encountered here at Martha’s,” said Morris. “I’m kind of a mother hen. It broke my heart. So, for me, it was something that I took very heavily, just because I worry about all of them and check in on them on the regular.”
Since the shooting in 2016 at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Martha’s Vineyard has chosen to increase safety measures.
“We’ve added security members, a larger team,” said Hazlette. “We’ve added the wands, you know, the metal-detecting wands. We’ve done a lot of things differently. You know, no large backpacks.”
Additional security measures, he said, are in the works. The hope is it helps put people’s minds at ease.
“It’s sad that that’s where we’re at, but it’s better safe than sorry,” said Hazlette.
The team is currently pushing out a message of love.
“We’re all human,” said Hazlette. “Not without flaw or mistake, but I think it’s just a sheer effort of trying to do better.”