Petters: LGBTQ+ Spaces Under Attack — Again


Brooklyn Critchley

Members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community gather for the Pride Rally at Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 6, 2021. (Photo by Brooklyn Critchley | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Keegan Petters, Opinion Writer, Copy Editor


Mere days after the horrific shooting at Colorado gay bar Club Q, Tucker Carlson went on air to continue his grotesque rhetoric against LGBTQ+ communities. Claiming the shooter was only mentally ill, he invited onto the show guest Jamie Michell — the founder of Gays Against Groomers — who believed the shootings happened due to “evil” within specific LGBTQ+ communities. Michell also believes drag shows sexualize children.

Conservatives fabricate this rhetoric out of fear of LGBTQ+ communities. It is disgusting to believe and insinuate that the community supports the grooming and sexualization of children. However false these claims are, it is a single example of a sea of homophobic far right media.

Media outlets, politicians and public figures need to be held accountable for the harm they cause to LGBTQ+ communities. Action must be taken to reduce the spread of homophobic rhetoric to protect our safe spaces.

No Stranger to Violence

Even before the Club Q shooting, LGBTQ+ spaces have a vast history of attacks. Most know of the Stonewall Riots, but in 1973, a man set fire to a gay lounge in New Orleans, killing 32 people. In 2000, Ronald Gay went into a gay bar in Virginia and murdered one and injured six. In 2009, there were reports of a man throwing concrete at gay patrons at a club in Texas, and the Pulse nightclub shooting, one of the most infamous and recent mass shootings in United States history, resulted in 49 deaths and over 50 injured.

This is not a single issue — it’s a pattern of homophobia. Even after the Colorado shooting, a man was charged with vandalism after throwing a rock into a New York City gay bar.

Propaganda’s Lasting Effect

A core reason for continuous attacks on LGBTQ+ spaces is right-wing propaganda. While gay marriage has become increasingly accepted in the country, so has propaganda targeting the LBGTQ+ community. Republicans believe drag queens and the transgender community sexualize youth. While the claim is absurdly false, it has significantly impacted society and politics. This year alone, 21 states have created bills to restrict gender-affirming care. Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill prohibits teachers from discussing sexuality with students. Locally, Utah banned transgender athletes from participating in school sports.

Aside from anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, political figures make disparaging and horrific remarks about the community being groomers. No matter how wrong the claims, media outlets and politicians aren’t given repercussions. Communities listening to such harmful rhetoric believe in the grooming of children by drag queens, which leads to attacks on drag performances or story hours. For example, Provo tried to host their first drag show but was greeted by armed protests from right-wing extremists. And in Idaho, a town almost suffered attacks by extremists during their pride festivities.

There’s a nationwide theme: LGBTQ+ communities have become vital targets for hate crimes as disgusting media expressions increase. Action must be taken immediately for the safety of these communities.

Club Q Shooting

Colorado’s Club Q is known for its popular drag shows and welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ groups. But due to the actions of one individual, the community once brought together is torn apart. While research on the shooter’s motive is ongoing, his background can give a little insight. The shooter, Anderson Aldrich, was raised part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, comes from a broken family and has a history of violent behavior.

In an interview, Aldrich’s father expressed fear that his child was gay upon hearing of the killings. “We don’t do gay,” he said and explained that he taught Aldrich to solve problems with violence. Encouraged by homophobic religious narratives alongside parental abuse, rhetoric created by anti-LGBTQ+ media outlets could have helped to motivate Aldrich’s atrocities.

What occurred at Club Q should represent the drastic change needed for the safety of the LGBTQ+ community. Unless we act to halt anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, there is no stopping another oppressed individual from committing the same violent acts as Aldrich.

We Need Change

Anti-LGBTQ+ expressions from media outlets and public figures need to be addressed with more severity and accountability. Their rhetoric encourages individuals to commit violent acts and is not free speech, but rather hate speech.

The Biden administration needs to strike against groups avidly attacking LGBTQ+ communities. While challenging to prosecute hate speech due to first amendment protections, the administration needs to place blame on clear motivators of hate crimes against LBTQ+ communities. And for those who consider themselves allies to LBGTQ+: be vocal. End false and harmful claims that cause right-wing extremists to attack LGBTQ+ safe spaces.

What happened at Club Q will be remembered as the effects of homophobia and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. The next generation of LGBTQ+ should be allowed to express themselves and patron safe spaces freely without fearing harm. Progress can only happen if we begin to change today.

For support or counseling, contact the University of Utah LGBT Center, The Utah Pride Center or Encircle


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