We’ve barely had time to grieve and already right-wing media figures are weaponizing the tragic Club Q shooting—continuing a dangerous anti-LGBTQ2S+ agenda that seems to have no limit.
Less than a week ago, a shooter opened fire during a dance event at the queer nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing five people—Daniel Aston, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving and Raymond Vance—and wounding more than two dozen others. The shooter was restrained by club patrons, including a military veteran and an unnamed trans woman who reportedly stomped on the shooter with her high heels.
It’s a resounding tragedy that has been felt deeply across a queer and trans community already suffering under what feels like a constant barrage of bad faith legislative, legal and ideological attacks on our very existance.
Within hours of news of the shooting breaking, a slew of online media personalities, including Fox News’ Tucker Carlson and YouTuber Tim Pool, pivoted from the tragedy to focus on fear-mongering over everything from drag queen story hours to puberty blockers.
Carlson had Jaimee Michell on his show this week, who founded the “Gays Against Groomers” Twitter account and has a documented history online of promoting white supremacist voices and antisemitic conspiracy theories. She directly suggested that shooting happened because of trans kids accessing gender-affirming care.
“I don’t think it’s going to stop until we end this evil agenda that is attacking children,” she said.
Pool similarly blamed the shooting on all-ages drag events in a series of tweets. Right-wing commentator Matt Walsh accused “leftists” of “using a mass shooting to try and blackmail us into accepting the castration and sexualization of children” and published a video this week titled “Why the Left Is So Desperate to Expose Children to Drag Queens.” Writer Candace Owens also invoked puberty blockers and “experimenting on children’s genitals” in relation to the shooting, while outspoken Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene used her newly reinstated Twitter account to attack LGBTQ2S+ folks.
It’s wild that this needs to be said, but a person entering a sacred queer space and murdering five people (with intentions to murder more) is not the fault of drag queens or trans kids accessing medical care or LGBTQ2S+ allyship. It is not the fault of queer people holding all-ages events, or efforts to get trans people gender-affirming care, or drag queen story hours or anything like that.
The only connection between the Club Q shooting and trans kids is how hate-driven pundits will weaponize both of them to spur further violence against vulnerable LGBTQ2S+ people. And let me be clear: these comments and connections being drawn by these media figures right now will directly lead to more violence against vulnerable LGBTQ2S+ people.
The connections being drawn on Fox News, social media and even in the pages of the so-called paper of record, the New York Times, are part of an ongoing and intentional homophobic and transphobic attack against our community. These arguments spur the increased normalization of terms like “groomer” or the dissemination of false information about trans healthcare for kids. They seed negativity toward scientifically proven treatments, basic LGBTQ2S+ rights and our very identities.
Sometimes it is explicit and loud like Carlson and company, but sometimes it’s the continued questioning of our existence and poorly executed reporting from supposedly more progressive outlets. The New York Times positioned the Club Q shooting as a tragedy, yet couldn’t step back and acknowledge its own role in disseminating and perpetuating dangerous and false information about trans people, particularly kids.
The ongoing normalization of LGBTQ2S+ hate in North America and the U.K. has led to the Club Q tragedy and will lead to others like it. The people to blame for this violence are not doctors fighting to get trans kids equitable access to care, or the drag queens hosting brunch story hours. It’s powerful online voices exploiting a tragedy to spur more violence.
Blood is on their hands. Watch them clap for more.