Brock Willard managing editor
It seems like every time we turn around, we are exposed to new and terrible acts of violence. Not even a week after the Club Q Shooting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, there was another shooting in Virginia. However, the shooting at Club Q was different than the one that followed it. The shooting at Club Q was an act of violence perpetrated on the LGBT community.
For those that do not know, nightlife spaces such as bars and clubs are crucial to queer people. In a world that is incredibly heteronormative, these places are where queer people can be their authentic selves without any sort of masking needed to survive. The shooter made it so not even our specific spaces are sacred to us.
Another point to be made throughout, I will not use the shooter’s name. I believe giving recognition to a shooter only emboldens others to commit the same atrocities. Naming a shooter gives them a heroic mythology to those that agree with their disgusting views.
This shooting was brought on by several factors. The most crucial factor is the rampant homophobia and transphobia that proliferates in our society in the modern age. We have a lot of soul searching to do to rid ourselves of the shadow of history that looms over us. By in large, American society operates on an “us and them” mentality. We are constantly bombarded with division. I do not want to anyone to misunderstand me when I bring up “division.” I do not mean it in the sense that I want people to stop talking about divisions that are already there, such as the barriers between black and white Americans that are still in place from the Jim Crow era.
The homophobia and transphobia that runs through our society is only exacerbated by the rhetoric of right-wing politicians who are continually introducing anti-transgender bills and passing anti-transgender legislation. That hate trickles out of the chamber and into their constituency, although much of their constituency is predisposed to queer hate already. It becomes a feedback loop that is resulting in violence and death against transgender people.
To illustrate this problem, it is legislated that in some states, transgender people must have a psych evaluation before they are cleared to start gender-affirming hormones whereas cisgender people do not. It is blatant discrimination, and it is baked into our society.
This shooter walked into the club and opened fire. If it were not for an Army veteran who was there to watch a drag show and a trans woman, the shooter could have killed more than the five people he did. This shooting also illustrates that queer people must protect ourselves. When the police showed up, they arrested the guy who stopped the shooting and only after being told by numerous patrons on the scene that he was one the hero in this situation, they let him go. Police, especially in queer spaces, often make situations worse, not better.
The bottom line is that queer people deserve happiness and life just like everybody else and until society moves forward, we will continue to be killed.