Trouble in the Gayborhood

One of the most shared and talked about stories on the O&AN Facebook page this past week was the report of the shooting at WKND, a bar on Church Street right next door to Canvas Lounge. According to the Tennessean report, “Officers were called to WKND Lounge at the 1700 block of Church Street after multiple shots were fired near the bar's entrance after 10:30 p.m.” A valet security guard was critically injured while a man and a woman suffered non-critical gunshot wounds.

Some readers argue that this isn’t news for our community, that the coincidence of the shooting happening near an LGBT bar shouldn’t make it a concern. But the location of a natural disaster is a coincidence too, and yet those in its proximity seem rightly to worry. So too various readers chimed in on the Facebook post, expressing concern or alarm at the proximity of the shooting to Canvas – mere feet from the bar’s porch after all. John Moss I think rightly argues, “It is a big deal because many of Canvas patrons walk right in front of wknd; the shooting was outside on the sidewalk.”

Steven Kiss, however, also seems right in reminding us, “don't forget people have been robbed at gunpoint in back of play. Just means it can happen anywhere….” But two facts remain. First, WKND screens patrons for weapons, which as Tom Coffman points out, means they expect some patrons to attempt to bring them in. Second, the shooter, who remains at large, was inside WKND and was thrown out before the shooting, which means he either had a weapon on his person DESPITE THE SCREENING, or had easy access to it, defeating the purpose of the screening.

I did not, like some of our readers, fear something like this from the day the bar opened. But I did begin to worry about it as I had the occasion to walk around a number of sidewalk scuffles on my way to or from my car. I began to worry more about the club as I saw or experienced gay slurs being hurled from the patio. But that worry has been tempered by seeing the opposite reaction, as patrons from WKND ask drag queens and Music City Sisters to join them in selfies.

I want to be clear, while some of the attention directed toward gays on the sidewalk may be cause for concern about direct danger to the LGBT community, the shooting is not. It is cause for concern about indirect dangers – as the danger of collateral damage from shooting wild is very high. And while it very well could have happened anywhere, it did happen on Church Street, right next door. Good fences may make good neighbors, but they don’t stop bullets.

But let’s not be alarmist: WKND should not deter LGBT patrons from Church Street. We can only follow Steven Kiss’s advice: “All you can do is just be aware of your surroundings and just go out and have fun.” But that’s true everywhere you have blood pumping, alcohol flowing, and hormones raging. This is no environment where weapons should be tolerated, and while we ought to be able to expect better of people, we know better. So when Steven adds, “Btw I don't know of any gay bars that allow weapons. Guns in bars is a stupid idea,” I couldn’t agree more.






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