Hermosa Beach held a candlelight vigil on Wednesday evening, November 23, to honor and commemorate the five young people who died late last week when a gunman entered Club Q in Colorado Springs and at the nightclub, which was a celebratory meeting place that opened fire for the LGBTQ community.
The vigil took place at Hermosa Beach Pier, just steps from a lifeguard tower that was painted rainbow colors in June 2021 to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month. This month the city celebrated its first Pride Day.
Randy Renner, who helped found the nonprofit Hermosa Beach Pride and is the organization’s president, said in an interview Wednesday before the vigil that the shooting hit hard because Club Q and Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where where 49 people were fatally shot in June 2016 are said to be safe spaces for the LGBTQ community.
“It’s really affecting all of us, I think on a pretty deep level,” Renner said. “So it’s time to come together to honor those we’ve lost and to remember our community and the protection it needs today.”
Local Izzy Bacallao and his family were inspired to paint the Hermosa Beach Lifeguard Tower Pride colors after learning that Long Beach’s original Pride Tower had burned down in March 2021.
Now Bacallao’s father Jose is the Vice President of Hermosa Beach Pride.
The purpose of the vigil, Jose Bacallao said, is to create a space for reflection and for sharing feelings.
“To see these young people being murdered in the Pride community,” Bacallao said, “it just reminds me of my family and the people of our South Bay.”
The Club Q shooting further shows that something similar could be happening here or elsewhere, he added.
While Hermosa Beach’s Pride celebrations, which stretched to three days this June, received a huge outpouring of support from the community, Renner said Wednesday, hate is still out there and “still very much present.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and local authorities contacted Hermosa Beach Pride about threats to the June event and “potential groups that are emerging,” Renner said.
“That’s why they had given us shelter throughout the day,” Renner said, “throughout the Pride.”
Thankfully, Renner said, the June weekend was festive — but also “pretty sad” because of the threats.
“There weren’t any incidents and it went really well,” said Renner.
Because of the threats, Bacallao said organizers canceled a drag story time at Practical Magic Apothecary. But, he said, it didn’t stop her from having a “nice day.”
City officials were “just supportive,” Bacallao added, when it came to the Pride events — or Wednesday vigil.
“I’m grateful for that,” Bacallao said, “especially as a father.”