It happened again: A horrible act of violence perpetrated against one of our most vulnerable communities. And it’s time to stop pretending that we don’t know why.
On Saturday night a shooter opened fire in Colorado Springs’ Club Q, a community center for LGBTQ+ Coloradans, killing five and wounding 25 others. This was the night before our national Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day when we collectively acknowledge the dangers in this country for anyone who dares to challenge the constructed norms of gender.
Why? Why would a freedom-loving people hold so much vehemence for those who want to live genuine lives?
Because they’ve been programmed to. And it’s time to start placing blame.
The Colorado Springs shooter — name withheld because fuck him — had been recently arrested, in June 2021, for a bomb threat in his mother’s home. No formal charges were filed.
Direct links to right-wing extremism have yet to be reported — unless you count the suspect’s grandfather, Randy Voepel, a MAGA-loving member of the California state legislature who faced expulsion after showing support for the Jan. 6 insurrectionists. And that he was outfitted in the style of the homegrown terrorist: Long gun, handgun, tactical gear, lots of ammo.
There’s also the fact that violent right-wing extremists like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have been aggressively harassing drag events for months, if not years; that state legislatures have been floating bills hostile to trans-Americans in particular and LGBTQ+ folks in general; that many elected officials in state and federal government have been actively stoking anti-LGBTQ+ violence.
Do we need to point out that they all come from the same political party?
Yes, Republicans must own this violence. They did this, either through direct action or, perhaps even worse, inaction when a principled stand was needed. Right-wing policies and propaganda brought us to this boiling point, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. We are long past plausible deniability.
So it falls to the rest of us to keep each other safe, and to rain judgment down on those who would harm us for being true to ourselves.
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