Most Monday nights, you won’t hear a thing coming from the little purple house where Hamburger Mary’s resides in City Park West. The queer-friendly bar and grill is typically closed that day to give staff the chance to unwind after a long week of serving (in more ways than one). But last Monday, Hamburger Mary’s was aroar. By 7 p.m., every seat inside was filled, and the sounds of Broadway tunes, boisterous cheering, and clinking drinks began to soundtrack the evening. The event: a sold-out benefit show to help reopen ICONS, which up until December, was Colorado Springs’ last remaining gay bar.

Since ICONS opened in 2020, the piano bar—staffed entirely by professional singers—provided Colorado Springs a rare space for queer community members to call their own. Following the Club Q shooting in November 2022 and its subsequent closure, ICONS was the only gay bar left in Colorado Springs. Husbands and co-owners Josh Franklin, a Colorado Springs native, and John Wolfe were determined to continue providing a safe space for the city’s queer community, despite the traumatic effects of the Club Q shooting on the ICONS staff. The bar updated its security measures and, with a strong sense of support from locals, forged on.

But late last year, disaster came knocking on their own front door. On December 4, a fire broke out in the Bijou Street building that housed ICONS. The damage to the bar didn’t initially appear severe, so Franklin and Wolfe held out hope that they could quickly reopen their doors. But two months after the blaze erupted, the building’s owner decided the entire property would require a large-scale renovation. ICONS and a number of neighboring businesses wouldn’t be able to return.

“Currently there is no gay bar in Colorado Springs, and I think that sends the wrong message,” Franklin says. “I think we’ve grown so much, and there’s such a huge community here.”

Now, the ICONS owners are looking to reopen at a new location downtown, one that’s never been an eat and drink establishment, meaning they’ll need to build the entire bar from scratch—an endeavor that’ll cost at least $300,000.

The benefit show at Denver’s Hamburger Mary’s, which was produced by Julia Tobey of Give 5 Productions, brought in $6,634, and a corresponding GoFundMe has raised just over half of its $75,000 goal. ICONS’ resident drag queen Kai Lee Mykels was the ringleader of the evening’s revelry, which consisted of more than 20 performances—many from former ICONS employees. Vocal trio Black Iris Collective kicked things off with a rendition of “Boyfriend” by Dove Cameron, Mykels brought the boogie with a disco-infused lip sync mix, and Franklin and Wolfe dazzled the crowd with their beloved rendition of “It’s De-Lovely” from Cole Porter’s Anything Goes (an ICONS favorite).

Belzin Whistlez performs at the ICONS benefit show. Photo by RDGPhotography

Other Denver businesses have also supported Colorado Springs’ displaced queer performers. The Block Distilling Co. holds a monthly drag event called Blossom Party in its RiNo tasting room, which is designed to give Colorado Springs drag artists a reliable place to work. The show is organized by Springs-based drag queen and activist Potted Plant and Z Williams, co-founder of social justice legal center Bread and Roses Law. Around 50 percent of the performers at Blossom Party, which occurs every first Friday of the month, survived the Club Q shooting or lost loved ones that night.

In addition, Club Q announced last October its intentions to reopen inside the historic Satellite Hotel in southern Colorado Springs. The new venue, now branded as “the Q,” will be managed and operated by survivors of the shooting and will include drag shows, karaoke, bingo, and more as part of its entertainment, according to the press release. A timeline for opening has yet to be announced.

In the meantime, ICONS is undergoing negotiations to purchase the commercial property that it hopes will house the welcoming watering hole in perpetuity. The expanded space would allow for new additions to the business—Franklin and Wolfe want to build out a patio on the building’s roof—but the owners’ goal is to preserve ICONS’ atmosphere and staff.

“We want this to be done right. We want it to be done well for the community,” Wolfe says. “So that’s why we’re reaching out [to others to] help be a part of something that’s going to last forever.”

ICONS’ GoFundMe fundraiser is ongoing, and updates on its reopening can be found on its website and Instagram. The next date of Blossom Party, which is free to attend, is on April 5.

Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan
Ethan Pan is 5280’s associate food editor, writing and editing for the print magazine and Follow his dining/cooking Instagram @ethans_pan.