Matt Cozzi, the thirty-four-year-old general manager of Legends Nightclub Complex, is the public face of the mostly original group that runs the venerable LGBTQ bar in Raleigh. On Friday night, Legends (330 West Hargett Street) celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary with, of course, a party. But there will be a somber moment of silence for the victims of this weekend's mass shooting. But just a moment, and then it's back to an all-night party—which is exactly how it should be.
The INDY spoke with Cozzi, who has worked at Legends for more than a decade, on Monday afternoon, the day after a Sunday night vigil in Legend's parking lot drew more than three hundred mourners.
INDY: It's sad that this celebration has to coincide with tragedy.
Cozzi: It's a horrible, horrible tragedy. And, of course, our deepest thoughts, prayers, and support go out to our brothers and sisters and friends and family, and, of course, the entire community, which is nationwide—worldwide—that is feeling this. I never thought in my life I would ever see something like that.
How did it feel seeing three hundred-plus people come out in support of the LGBTQ community at last night's vigil?
You know, it's always kind of a double edge on that. It's good to see the community pull together like that. It's unfortunate to see that it happened under horrible circumstances.
Has there ever been a night at Legend's where you felt threatened?
No. I never have. We, of course, are a private club, which helps to ensure that we are inviting folks into our area who are respectful of what we are, who we are. And while, absolutely, Legends is an LGBTQ bar, I'm accepting of anybody who wants to come in and be respectful and have a spot where they feel safe to come in and be who they want to be. I think that's known, and it's respected in the community.
How would you assess the club's importance to the LGBTQ community?
There are a lot of memories made in that building. Personal friends of mine who are married met there. We also provide resources. We do a lot of fundraisers. We just had our annual Red Party, where a portion of proceeds go to The Alliance of AIDS Services Carolina, which provides HIV testing and prevention education and treatment.
Would you say that Legends has served as a bridge builder?
Absolutely. That's an important part that we discussed collectively. As much as we, as a community, want to be included in everything, we have to understand that we have to allow the same thing. And it's not nearly as hard for us to be accepting of people who want to be part of us and our community respectfully as it is, unfortunately, for others to be the same. So we give a lot more than we get. Identifying your sexuality is nothing more than identifying your sexuality. You are a human being. That's what matters.