At least five people are dead and 25 injured after a shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado, that was hosting a drag show and planned a drag brunch the next morning to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance. The attack comes as right-wing media have focused obsessively on drag shows in recent months, falsely portraying them as a threat not just to children, but to civilization as a whole.
For months, anti-LGBTQ account Libs of TikTok has used Twitter to publicize the locations and organizers of drag events while spreading salacious accusations of what might happen there. Recent segments on Fox News have claimed that drag queens are part of a plot to sexualize children. Ben Shapiro of The Daily Wire has positioned drag as a threat to civilization, while his colleague Matt Walsh compared drag shows to cancer, calling for an “aggressive” approach to “fighting it.”
Media observers have warned about the dangers of this unchecked rhetoric, the consequences of which are increasingly evident and dire. Boston Children’s Hospital was targeted with another bomb threat last week after being the target of a right-wing fearmongering campaign over its provision of gender-affirming care. At the start of November, a donut shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that had hosted a drag event was targeted by an arsonist. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, homicides against trans people have doubled over the last four years.
The suspect at Colorado’s Club Q was subdued by at least two people who police say confronted and fought him, likely saving many lives. But members of right-wing media have mocked attempts by LGBTQ people to provide security for their own events in the face of an unprecedented hate campaign. The day before the shooting, members of right-wing media including BlazeTV’s Sara Gonzales, “independent journalist” Tayler Hansen, and BlazeTV’s Alex Stein mocked armed LGBTQ supporters who stood guard outside a “transgender storytime” event in Denton, Texas, while Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec called for the guards to be arrested by Texas authorities.
As news of the mass shooting broke Sunday morning, Libs of TikTok fired off a tweet alerting her 1.5 million followers to an organization that she claims “teaches kids how to become drag queens” and two elected officials who she says help support them.
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who helped fuel a climate of anti-LGBTQ hate by telling “all the drag queens” to “stay away from the children of Colorado’s Third District,” and who previously responded to a report listing her Twitter account as the third-ranked source of “grooming” slander on social media by promising to do more, tweeted that “this lawless violence needs to end and end quickly.” (Club Q is not within the boundaries of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.)
Club Q has asked that people interested in donating to victims and the local community do so through a contribution to the Colorado Healing Fund, available at this link.