The Club Q shooting: A testament to the dangerous side effects of the anti-gay agenda

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Theo Franssen

The hateful rhetoric running rampant in the US is severely damaging to the LGBTQ+ community.

By Theo Franssen, Edina High School

The night of Saturday, Nov. 19, was supposed to be a fun night at Club Q, a LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Instead, it ended in a horrifying—but not unforeseeable—tragedy.

Minutes before midnight, a series of gunshots ripped through the vibrant atmosphere of the club. The three rounds of shots, fired from the long rifle of 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich, killed five people, and injured 25 more, all in the span of just a few minutes.

Heroic clubgoers quickly managed to subdue the gunman by grabbing him, pinning him down, and beating him with his gun until police arrived, reaching the scene at 12:00 a.m. Aldrich, battered but alive, was taken into custody just minutes after the shots began.

News of the shooting broke on International Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day during Transgender Awareness Week dedicated to the remembrance and mourning of transgender people lost to violence.

The attack came as a devastating blow to the queer community not only of Colorado Springs, but across the U.S. A memorial was set up near Club Q in remembrance of the lives lost, and mourners gathered the following day to offer support to each other.

The timing of the shooting was not lost on many; not only did it come during a sacred week for the LGBTQ+ community, but it was preceded by an onslaught of anti-gay and anti-transgender legislation put forth by elected officials in the U.S.

Experts have warned that such anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric could cause extremists to see it as a call to action against the queer community. In June, 31 members of the neo-Nazi group Patriot Front were arrested in Idaho for conspiracy to riot at a pride event. This happened only a month after an Idaho preacher claimed members of the LGBTQ+ community should be executed by the government, with a Texas preacher echoing the same views, clearly trying to inspire hatred and violence. It seems the incentivisation of violence against the LGBTQ+ community  is well underway.

While legislation targeting transgender youth and athletes in particular has consistently been a part of the U.S.’s reality for years, the creation and eventual passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill earlier this year helped to put the issue in the spotlight. Other states also began to introduce more egregious and hateful legislation, including bills preventing gender-affirming care for minors, requiring student athletes to compete as the sex they were assigned at birth, and forcing transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns not with the student’s gender but with their sex assigned at birth.

A recent survey from the Trevor Project, an American nonprofit dedicated to being a resource centre for queer youth, found that 72% of LGBTQ+ youth experienced symptoms of anxiety in the last year, and 62% experienced symptoms of depression. On top of that, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide, and of that 42%, 18% actually made a suicide attempt, twice the rate of all US teens, who by themselves stand at 9%.

What causes this staggering difference in statistics? The hatred and bigotry directed towards these youths and LGBTQ+ people in general certainly plays a major part.

And it isn’t as if these statistics aren’t known, at least to a certain extent. The officials who are writing and passing these bills cannot possibly be oblivious to the fact that what they’re doing is putting queer people in danger of rising LGBTQ+ suicide rates. The simple truth is that they just don’t care.

These elected officials are also choosing to ignore the violence against the LGBTQ+ community that they are inciting with their hateful rhetoric. The timing of the Club Q shooting along with other anti-LGBTQ+ incidents including protests, threats, and instances of physical violence is no coincidence.

So while the actions taken against the LGBTQ+ community are horrifying, they’re not exactly surprising, especially not to anyone in the queer community. As “thoughts and prayers” and “calls to action” are thrown out by allies to the community, the intensity of the hatred queer people face only grows, and no changes are made.

If those who claim alliance with the LGBTQ+ community really want to help in the fight against bigotry and injustice, the answer isn’t “I’ll pray for you.” It’s preventing the passage of bigoted legislation and voting members and supporters of the LGBTQ+ community into elected positions. It’s people using their voices to fight for the queer community who can’t do it alone and working together to shut down the damaging anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric running rampant in this country. It’s stopping the anti-gay agenda dead in its tracks before its violent path causes irreparable devastation to LGBTQ+ Americans.

This story was originally published on Zephryus on December 2, 2022.