Backwards Night Club first new gay bar to open in Calgary in years
Owners have 'no fear whatsoever' as soft opening comes just days after 49 people killed at Orlando gay bar
UPDATE: The opening of the Backwards Night Club has been delayed because of "final touches" to fire alarms. The club owner expects to announce the new opening date very soon.
"No fear whatsoever."
That's co-owner Marlon Lee's attitude headed into the soft opening of Calgary's newest gay bar Thursday less than one week after 49 people were shot and killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in the worst mass shooting by a single attacker in American history.
"My first reaction are two words I really couldn't repeat on the radio," Lee told CBC's The Homestretch.
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But Lee said his initial shock and sadness will not change his plans for Backwards Night Club.
Filling a gap
Lee said he and his business partner Kirk Handy have been working to bring the restaurant and bar to 628 Eighth Ave. S.W. since fall 2015.
"It's been probably closer to seven years, give or take, that there has been no new gay bar in Calgary, and we want to change that," Lee said.
"Everybody wants to be able to go somewhere that they can just be themselves, hang out and have a good time."
With the Orlando shooting weighing heavy on the minds of Calgary's LGBT community members, Lee said the launch will be an opportunity to build "a sense of community, unity and diversity."
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"Life goes on, and we have to move on. I think even the victims would appreciate that," he said.
"They don't want people to stop doing things in their life just because of this event. Remember it, and let's make sure it doesn't ever happen again."
With files from The Homestretch