Before Club Q become the site of a tragic shooting, it was a sanctuary for poet James Davis.
Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the bar was what Davis described as "a real liberating place" in the midst of a conservative city. He and his friends would gather at the "hokey small town gay bar" to karaoke.
Now, a 2020 poem he wrote as a tribute to the club, titled "Club Q," has resurfaced online, with many widely sharing it as a way to grieve the five people who died in Saturday night’s shooting, which also left 19 injured.
In a phone interview with NBC News on Monday, Davis said he wrote the poem about the club as if it were the club itself speaking. He described it as “a safe space for you to be yourself” in a town where “it is not always safe for you to be yourself.”
“When you go to a gay bar, even if it’s not this transformative, ecstatic experience, like the normal-ness, and the even kind of like lameness in some way, of the gay bar is a gift and a treasure,” Davis said. “And that every memory that you have there is precious and not a given.”
The poem is included in his book of the same title, "Club Q."
Davis said he hasn't been to the club since 2016. But after the news of the shooting broke, he received text messages saying things like, "I'm so sorry," because he's become so closely associated with the club through his work.
The Q shooting, however, made him feel angry. "I felt just pissed off," Davis said.
2022 is the third straight year with more than 600 multiple-victim shootings in America, according to the nonprofit The Gun Violence Archive.
Davis said that, as his poem was shared across social media, he found that his writing was not only helping those affected by the Q shooting — it was also helping him.
"It’s made me feel like I have some responsibility to the people in my community," he said. "I wrote that poem for a reason. I mean, really, I think that part of me when I was writing a poem understood the possibility of this happening."
Davis said he's glad the poem has become a way to help others to grieve. "I think it makes me feel like I’ve done something right," he said.
As for the future of Club Q, Davis said he hopes the bar is around for many years to come. He said he hopes the people who are affiliated with the establishment know that he's grateful for its existence.
"The core part of who I am is due to their letting me kind of unfold the parts of myself that I wasn’t able to show beforehand," he said.