COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Friends and family of Daniel Aston, one of the five victims killed in the deadly shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs last month, remembered him during a memorial service Wednesday.
"When I heard the news that Daniel died I think, more than anything, I felt confusion ... confusion about what to feel," said Alec Tiger, Daniel's nephew, during the service in Shove Memorial Chapel at Colorado College.
"Being here over the past couple of weeks, and seeing these videos and stories about Daniel, and the impact he made on so many lives, it's helped me to understand that more than anger, or hate, or confusion, it's love and thankfulness I should feel," Tiger continued. "In that way, Daniel will be with us forever."
Tiger said Aston's boyfriend, Wyatt Kent, helped him pick the poem "One's Self I Sing" by Walt Whitman to read during the service.
"It was heavily annotated in his book, and it's about being passionate in life and expressing yourself, which I think is representative of Daniel," Tiger said.
Kate Tiger, Daniel's sister-in-law, said that he was a "warm, loving and fun uncle" to her children.
"Daniel was really proud to be an uncle," she said. "If you knew him, you knew he loved that job and he did it beautifully. ... I think he really enjoyed the responsibility of being a protector and a mentor."
Kent said he knew Aston "first and foremost as a friend at the club before I knew him as a boyfriend ... as a partner."
"I say partner as in partner in crime, partner at the bar, drag partner, partner going to movies and hopefully ... the plan was to be partners in life," Kent said while fighting back tears.
Kent explained the meaning behind a tradition he had with Aston involving shots.
"He was a big Walt Whitman fan, and he loved the line 'we contain multitudes' because it's a truth evident in and of itself that we all do contain multitudes," Kent said. "And I love the Joni Mitchell line 'into the multitudes' because that's what life really is, a journey deep into those multitudes in which you contain."
"So we would do our fireball shots together, and we would toast to the multitudes," he said.
> Watch the full service below:
On a typical night at the Club Q, Daniel Aston could be seen letting loose and sliding across the stage on his knees tailed by his mullet to whoops and hollers.
Club Q provided Aston, a 28-year-old transgender man and the self-proclaimed “Master of Silly Business," with the liberating performances he had long sought.
The eagerness of Sabrina Aston's son to make people laugh and cheer started as a child in Tulsa, Oklahoma when he would don elaborate costumes, including the beast from “Beauty and the Beast,” cycle through weird hats and write plays acted out by neighborhood kids.
Aston preferred dressing as a boy at a young age until teasing from other kids pushed him to try girls clothing. While Sabrina Aston enjoyed helping style her son, she said the fashion led to weight loss. “He was miserable," she said.
‘Master of Silly Business’ among 5 dead in Colorado shooting
After coming out to his mother, he attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., and became president of its LGBTQ+ club. He put on fundraisers with ever-more flashy productions (“He didn’t just stand and lip-sync,” Sabrina Aston made clear) and fanned over '80s hair bands.
Two years ago, Aston moved from Tulsa to Colorado Springs — where his parents had settled — and started at Club Q as a bartender and entertainer, where his parents would join in the cheers at his shows.
"(Daniel’s shows) are great. Everybody needs to go see him,” his mother said. “He lit up a room, always smiling, always happy and silly."
Members of Colorado Spring's LGBTQ+ community say Club Q has been one of only a few havens where they could be fully authentic in one of the state's more conservative metros. Sabrina Aston said that's why her son took to the club; it gave his identity room to breathe and "he liked helping the LGBT community."
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