(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Local LGBTQ+ groups are reacting to the House Oversight Committee’s hearing on “The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism Violence in the United States,” saying it was tough to watch their own community members testify.

Two survivors of the Club Q mass shooting, as well as the founding owner of the club testified at Wednesday’s hearing, which lasted almost three and a half hours. Danette Tritch, a board member of the Colorado Springs chapter of the national organization PFLAG, watched the entire hearing and explained how important it is to bring awareness to these issues.

“The hearing did a good job of really demonstrating the relationship between the rhetoric and the violence… It’s harmful to young people. It’s harmful to families. And this is what PFLAG fights against,” said Tritch.

PFLAG is one of the largest organizations in the country that supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ people and their families. The organization’s focus is on fighting violence and harmful rhetoric, like some of the talking points mentioned in the hearing. Tritch described how Colorado Springs is no stranger to anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric.

“We do see this in the Colorado Springs community. We’ve seen homophobic and transphobic rhetoric coming from elected school board members, city council… institutions where young people find themselves… And, you know, it weakens our community,” said Tritch. “One of the things I thought that the hearings brought out was accountability. Accountability for our elected leaders… and accountability in all the institutions that touches people’s lives that this rhetoric can affect.”

Tritch spoke about how she was reminded of the tragedy that was felt not too long ago, when she watched the Club Q survivors testify. But she also said she felt hopeful, speaking about how important their stories were to emphasize how greatly these issues have affected this community.

She hopes that institutions and politicians locally can utilize and reach out to organizations like PFLAGOne ColoradoInside Out Youth Services, and more advocacy organizations, in order to take steps in the right direction moving forward.

“When [survivors] share their stories, there’s an opportunity for us to learn… In the end, I’m hopeful that our community can learn from this,” said Tritch.