November 29, 2022

We, at Chinook Fund, are feeling the grief and heartbreak with this most recent, violent attack on LGBTQ+ communities in Colorado Springs. In the wake of the mass shooting tragedy at Club Q, it is critical we follow the leadership of and resource local LGBTQ+ and queer and trans BIPOC communities. We have received requests to lift up mutual aid funds to ensure survivors and families of the victims have ready access to financial support regardless of their engagement with law enforcement and other governmental systems or formal institutions. 

In addition to Inside Out Youth Services and other LGBTQ+-led groups, Chinook Fund encourages funders and donors to support and lift up GoFundMe mutual aid funds being organized by and for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities impacted by the Colorado Springs mass shooting, including Judy’s Garage GoFundMe campaign. Additionally, we invite you to support our LGBTQ-led grantees providing resources and safe community spaces across the state: 

🤍 Fortaleza Familiar (Denver metro)
🤍 Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center (Durango)
🤍 Authentic Creations Publishing Apothecary (Colorado Springs)
🤍 Looms of Liberation (Denver)
🤍 One Colorado (Statewide)
🤍 Ignacio Out & Equal Alliance (Southwest CO)
🤍 Transformative Freedom Fund (Statewide)

The unfortunate reality is the systems for crisis response and victim advocacy, by design, marginalize and harm those living at the intersections of heterosexism, transphobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression (Examples: intake forms only include M/F options; disproportionate rates of police violence against Black communities; risk of deportation for immigrant survivors; healthcare coverage excluding gender-affirming care).

On a more personal note, I also live at these intersections as a non-binary, queer, mixed-race Asian person from a working-class family. Some of you may know that I worked as an anti-violence organizer and co-executive director for Survivors Organizing for Liberation/BSEEDZ and prevention education director for The Blue Bench from 2005 through 2013. I also served on the governance committee for the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs during this time. 

I have been on the ground providing rapid response support in the wake of anti-trans murders, bias-motivated attacks and discrimination, police beatings of gay men of color in downtown Denver, and the blatant denial of life-saving services by shelters and police. LGBTQ+ survivors have very real reasons to fear reporting violence to police or victim advocacy groups given the long history of mistreatment, discrimination, and escalating state and federal-level attacks on our rights and humanity. Faced with these unjust systems, our funding responses must be aligned with these current realities.  

Funders for LGBTQ Issues reports that “for every $100 awarded by US foundations, only 4 cents focuses on trans communities.” I encourage my fellow funders to check out Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC), an initiative of Funders for LGBTQ Issues, and join Chinook Fund in taking their pledge. GUTC aims to inspire a philanthropic culture that is inclusive and supportive of trans people through grantmaking and decision-making as well as ensuring our teams have access to trainings and professional development opportunities focused on supporting trans communities.

It pains us to know that amid grief, we are also hearing an outcry from the community that there is distrust in systems created to distribute funds and resources to those in need (CBS article). Grief is a powerful tool and teacher. Kristiana Huitron, Executive Director of the Colorado Springs organization Voces Unidas for Justice shared these words today, “Both grief and trauma can bring up the pain, and emotions of old wounds and can push a person toward old and outdated coping methods from before. Both grief and trauma need relationship and community to process and move toward healing.”

Together, as the philanthropic community of Colorado, we must turn toward each other, ask meaningful questions, cultivate trust, and amplify and fund leaders who are closest to the issues at hand. When the waves of grief come again, as they are sure to do, my hope is that we have a strong and united response and are a channel for the immense outpouring of generosity from our community in Colorado and beyond. 

In solidarity,

Crystal Middlestadt
Executive Director, Chinook Fund
Pronouns: they/them


Header photo by: Adam Knapik