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LGBTQ: Focus on the community 

Did you see Jesus Camp and get freaked out? Yeah, me too. Don't worry, though — Colorado Springs actually has plenty of room for all its evangelicals and an ever-growing LGBTQ population. In fact, the latter has bloomed into a thriving community on campuses and in the city alike.

On campus

At UCCS, students have two groups to choose from: Spectrum (spectrum@uccs.edu) and Queer Student Union (amerino@uccs.edu). While both groups help sponsor events throughout the year, they have their differences. Spectrum tends to be the more social of the two groups, providing a supportive space for LGBTQ students and allies to freely express themselves. Queer Student Union is a political activism group that seeks to dismantle homophobia on campus and in the community through confronting problems when they arise.

UCCS' scene got a boost last October, when a partnership between UCCS and the Pikes Peak Gay & Lesbian Community Center (known as the Pride Center) yielded the new LGBT Resource Center (uccs.edu/~lgbtresourcecenter/index.html). Part of the university's Multicultural Office for Student Access, Inclusiveness and Community, or M.O.S.A.I.C., the Resource Center does both advocacy and outreach.

Down the road at CC, one can find the Queer-Straight Alliance (colin.mccarey@coloradocollege.edu), which typically puts on multiple campus-wide events and forums per year, but is revamping its structure this year. One can also head to EQUAL (sarah.white@coloradocollege.edu — yes, that's my e-mail), a completely confidential group meant to welcome students into a safe community to talk and be themselves, whether they are firm in their sexual orientation or just questioning.

Over at PPCC (kate.pagel@ppcc.edu), the Pride Alliance is the best group for LGBTQ students.

As you might expect at an institution that abides by Don't Ask, Don't Tell, there are no LGBTQ-specific counseling services at the Air Force Academy. According to media relations officer Meade Werthen, counseling at at the Chaplaincy "is 100 percent privileged, i.e., nothing can be disclosed without the express approval of the person being counseled." Otherwise, students may use the services of other community agencies.

In the city

For students up to the age of 22, Inside/Out Youth Services (insideoutys.org) can provide a safe, accepting space. The Pride Center (yourpridecenter.org) is also great for any age. It's loaded with tons of fiction and nonfiction books as well as a list of resources on subjects ranging from LGBT-friendly local businesses to health issues. They even have a calendar of local LGBTQ events on their site as well as listings for various groups in the area, including Peak Area Gender Expressions (P.A.G.E.), the only transgender support and activist group in southern Colorado.

While Colorado Springs has more than its share of those aforementioned evangelicals, a conflict between being gay and Christian is nonexistent in a few churches around town. Two of a handful of United Church of Christ churches in town, First Congregational Church (fcucc.org) and Vista Grande Community Church (vgcc.org), are "Open and Affirming." The city's two Unitarian Universalist churches, All Souls (asuuc.net) and High Plains (hpcuu.org), are equally welcoming. And The Pikes Peak Metropolitan Community Church (ppmcc.org) is part of the larger MCC denomination founded in 1968 to help Christians who had been alienated because of their sexual orientation. The Rev. Wes Mullins continues along that path by constantly reiterating that "Your God can only be as real as you are."

Welcoming faith communities like these tend to have sporadic youth events throughout the year, and welcome anyone who is eager to learn and listen.

Moving backward, from Sunday morning to Saturday night: Colorado Springs isn't much of a hotspot for outstanding clubs, and for the LGBTQ community, the selection is even slimmer. Club Q (3430 N. Academy Blvd., clubqonline.com) is your best bet for drag and dance. Energetic drag shows with both queens and kings start at 10:30 every Friday and Sunday, and even the under-21 crowd is welcome (for a steep cover charge).

Bijou Bar and Grill (2510 E. Bijou St., bijoubar.com) is fun for a laid-back evening, with a great bar and pool tables. The Underground (110 N. Nevada Ave., undergroundbars.com, also reviewed on p. 21), which has won our Best Gay Bar readers' poll for four years running, has the most aesthetically pleasing space by far, with multiple levels, bars and a great outdoor smoking deck. All three venues offer different activities every night they're open, so be sure to check their websites and see the selection.

sarah@csindy.com

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