Colorado Springs, CO: Late Saturday the 19th of November, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of patrons at an adult-oriented gay & lesbian nightclub called Club Q, killing 5 and injuring 25. The gunman is reported to be the grandson of California GOP State Assemblyman Randy Voepel who extolled the January 6th attempted coup d’etat and likened it to the Revolutionary War; a sentiment shared by QAnon which also spreads the conspiracy that members of the LGBTQI+ community are sexually grooming children. The gunman has been charged with 305 criminal counts, with 48 of those charges being hate crimes. The gunman was known to local law enforcement due to being arrested over a year prior when, as authorities account, he made bomb threats, abducted a family member, and threatened to become "the next mass killer" during a standoff with SWAT, though the charges for that incident were mysteriously dropped and the records were sealed.
Threats to vulnerable communities like the Club Q Gunman poses are nothing new, nor have they been taken seriously by law enforcement. This has led many within these communities to arm themselves. Although this has been the status quo for LGBTQI+ individuals and communities there has been a marked uptick in this virulent anti-queer fervor which may be connected to the afore-mentioned gunman. Since the 2016 election there has been sharp increase in queerphobic rhetoric and violence. Much can be measured about this increase:
-In 2021 anti-gay crimes surged to more than 150% of the year prior while right-wing provocateurs stoked the anxieties of would-be assailants.
-Since self-styled Elon Musk has purchased Twitter, hate speech on the platform against gay men has increased by 58%.
-Despite the number of reporting agencies decreasing by 452 in 2019, the number of reported hate crimes increased by 949 cases in 2020 according to the FBI.
-The term “groomer” has doubled in usage in the last 6 years according to Google Trends.
Anti-LGBTQI+ sentiment is on a sharp incline in parallel with the explosion of QAnon, and is inspiring a new wave in violence.
QAnon is well known for their "Save the Children" and "Adrenochrome" conspiracy theories, imagining a mysterious (often gay, jewish, and elite) other that poses a threat to children everywhere. The infamous attack dubbed "Pizzagate" was the result of one such conspiracy theory churning session on 8chan (the spiritual home of QAnon). Only this tinfoil hat party was amplified by mainstream conservative media and politicians. What is sadly mundane is how much these conspiracy theories rhyme with historic narratives surrounding the question of whether to allow gay people to exist or not. Narratives that state that "to allow the gays to live is to let them molest children." This is a con that goes back as far queerphobia can be read and was the driving narrative that installed modern Russia's ban on allowing homosexuals to be public about their orientation. We've seen this show, this very episode, even. We know when the credits roll.
Every time we say that terror attacks like this will happen, it’s not clairvoyance. On a daily basis bigots are publicly and credibly wishing and threatening our deaths. We are just taking them at their word. One doesn't have to look that hard to find queerphobic threats of violence which are let slide by law enforcement and media platforms; merely look to whenever a right wing provocateur publicizes a drag event, whether family friendly or adults only, you immediately find a bevvy of reactionaries credibly threatening the lives of organizers, attendees, and performers while chanting the most putrid queerphobic conspiracy theories. Even showing up armed to shut down the event by any means necessary. This climate of stochastic terror has led to not only this murder spree, but has reaped firebombings, assaults, harassment campaigns, and other hate crimes.
Many community based defense groups, like the John Brown Gun Club and Tenacious Unicorn Ranch, have stood up against these local fascist threats (local fascist threats which have international funding and organizing bodies). These groups' successes have chased away white supremacists, silenced bigots, and ensured the safety of their communities. When we see communities standing up for themselves, we also see a decline in the types of violence that threaten those communities, not only immediately at the point in which defense is necessary but also throughout the course of the life of that community defense structure. As the recent popular saying goes "armed queers are hard to bash."