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Colorado Springs Shooting Comes As Right-Wing Escalating War On LGBTQ People, Probably A Coincidence
Is it too soon to connect the dots?
Just before midnight Saturday, a 22-year-old entered Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He immediately opened fire with a long rifle, murdering at least five people and injuring 25 others. The LGBTQ nightclub was hosting a drag show and the attack coincided with Transgender Day of Remembrance. It’s hard to imagine this was a coincidence, but we suppose stranger things have happened. At the same time, information develops fast with mass shootings, so we don't want to get ahead of what's actually known.
Two patrons — civilians, not cowardly Uvalde, Texas-style cops — subdued the shooter, whom local police took into custody. Someone who appears to be the same person was investigated last year for threatening to bomb his own mother. He’s reportedly the grandson of Republican California state assembly member Randy Voepel, who compared the January 6 insurrection to the Revolutionary War.
This is America, and if it's confirmed that anti-LGBTQ hatred motivated this heinous crime, it won't be the first time the nation’s easy access to death machines and escalating hatred against the LGBTQ community have collided. And Republicans might offer “thoughts and prayers” today, but we can’t ignore the active and increasing role they’ve played in spreading hatred toward LGBTQ+ people or the context in which this is playing out.
Colorado’s Republican nominee for governor Heidi Ganahl spread the curious slander that schools were allowing students to identify as cats, which is slightly worse than exposing them to the film version of Cats . This summer, state representatives Dave Williams from Colorado Springs and Mark Baisley from Roxborough Park raised alarms about “groomers” at a Highlands Ranch drag show.
Right-wing creeps including the Proud Boys have disrupted drag shows in Texas , Nevada and Oregon. Hate-mongers Matt Walsh and Chaya Raichik, who runs the anti-queer Libs of TikTok account, led online campaigns attacking children’s hospitals that provide treatment for transgender kids and teens. They’d later dismiss a bomb threat against a Boston hospital as a “false flag.” (That’s a lie.)
Tucker Carlson has repeatedly incited violence against the LGBTQ community on his white power hour. He's attacked supportive teachers, parents, and medical professionals as sex criminals and demanded that his viewers “fight back.”
Chaya Raichik didn’t let the Club Q shooting stop her bigoted antics. Sunday, she targeted another drag organization in Colorado. Raichik demonstrated no shame or remorse over her rhetoric.
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert, who unfortunately returns to Congress next year, at least tried to respond like someone with human feeling, but it’s hard to get past the hypocrisy. Boebert has consistently promoted the twisted groomer rhetoric that's painted a target on queer people’s backs.
Boebert tweeted Sunday morning, "The news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers. This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.” However, Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, put Boebert’s seemingly benign words in the proper context. In June, Boebert tweeted, “Take your children to CHURCH, not drag bars.”
“Lauren Boebert, a Colorado right-wing gun extremist and bigot, bears responsibility for the “lawlessness” that killed at least five people and wounded 18 more in Colorado Springs last night.”
— Shannon Watts (@Shannon Watts) 1668956625
The day before Pride Month started this year, Boebert reportedly said, "We went from Reading Rainbow to Randy Rainbow in a few decades, but don’t dare say the Left is grooming our kids.” A few months later, she expressed faux disappointment that her anti-queer tweets had placed third in overall reach behind Christian nationalist James Lindsay and (naturally) Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. She declared, “Guess that means I’ll have to tweet about these sick, demented groomers even more.” She also outright threatened drag queens to “stay away from children in Colorado’s third district."
During what has sadly become his regularly scheduled mass-shooting remarks, President Joe Biden directly linked the Club Q attack to the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida.
"Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence,” he said. "Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate.”
Writer Dan Savage observed that the shooter invaded what should’ve been a safe space for queer people, away from judgmental right-wing eyes, but bigots can’t tolerate queer Americans existing without constantly worrying or even thinking about the people who hate them.
Again, as of this writing, there is no known motive for the shooting. If it's confirmed that it was indeed anti-LGBTQ+ hatred, we'll try to look surprised.
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