TW: Homophobia, transphobia, violence, murder, child predators, pedophilia, grooming
I would like to preface this article by sharing my condolences to those affected, either directly or indirectly, by the Club Q shooting and murders. Nobody should face this level of hate for simply being themselves, especially in a place which should have been a safe space. This level of terrorism should never be tolerated or excused.
A common misconception that has been thrown around conservative spaces as of late is that child grooming and predatory behaviors come from the queer and trans community. The fear mongering tactic of equating queer and trans people with child predators is nothing new; it has existed since the dawn of trans people, and has affected trans women in particular. It’s a commonly used excuse to discriminate against trans people, by using a strawman to define the whole community.
Hate really started to pick up recently after the introduction of ‘Drag Queen Story Hour,’ an event hosted at many libraries which, as it simply states in the title, involves drag queens reading books to children. This event has been called everything from child grooming to pedophilia. This shows that conservatives have a clear bias and only view queer and trans people through a sexual lens, unable to imagine them doing anything that isn’t inherently sexual. It also furthers the rhetoric that simply exposing your children to the LGBTQ+ community will ‘turn your children gay,’ as if your child growing up queer is the worst offence they could commit. If you took even a minute to look into Drag Queen Story Hour, you would see there is nothing sexual about it, as drag is not an inherently sexual hobby or career. This is the same excuse that conservatives use against pride month every year. Queer and trans people existing and showing their pride for their identity is seen by the political right as wrong and unsafe for children, as they believe that members of the LGBTQ+ community only exist for sexual means and are unable to live as regular people.
Along with this, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill was passed back in March of this year as well as many anti-transgender legislations, all of which are deliberately named to spark fear in parents. Bills such as the ‘Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act’ (SAFE) make their stance on trans youth very clear. Using words such as ‘save’ and ‘experimentation’ further the rhetoric that children are in danger of being trans or that it is simply experimentation and therefore doesn’t really exist. The political right loves to hide their blatant homophobia and transphobia under the guise of the ‘safety of children’ which again enforces that queer and trans people are unsafe and dangerous. This not-so-cleverly disguised homophobia and transphobia unfortunately works, coercing parents who would be otherwise unaffected by the LGBTQ+ community into actively hating and voting on laws against them.
The fear and hatred of the LGBTQ+ community has gradually grown and it came to a head on November 19th when a 22-year-old opened fire at Club Q, a queer nightclub, killing 5 and injuring 25 queer and trans people. A place which was supposed to be safe for the LGBTQ+ community was directly targeted. This attack was without a doubt a result of the aforementioned hate speech and fear mongering. The father of the killer told a news outlet that he questioned why his son was even at Club Q in the first place, as ‘mormons don’t do gay,’ thus making it clear he would rather his son be there with malicious intent than be queer.
After the attack, anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech and rhetoric has seemingly grown exponentially. Jaimee Michell was featured on Fox News with Tucker Carlson declaring that the attack on Club Q was predictable and more will continue to happen unless we ‘end this evil agenda’ of gender affirming healthcare. Notions like this don’t only endorse the attacks but encourage them. Earlier this year, a bomb threat was called on a children’s hospital for allowing gender affirming healthcare. Popular conservative figureheads such as Tim Pool and Kurt Schlichter had similar things to say, stating they should not have to ‘tolerate pedophiles’ because of the terrorist attack. He also said that Club Q had a ‘grooming event,’ to which he was referencing a Sunday book reading partnered with Drag Story Hour, which to him justified the attack. These are the same fear mongering tactics which have fostered an environment for attacks like this to happen, with little to no backlash from the political right.
This wasn’t the first attack and it will by no means be the last. A similar event happened in 2016 at Pulse, another popular gay bar, where a man opened fire and killed 49 people. These attacks won’t stop until the notion of queer people as dangerous and predatory has ceased. The world is still a very dangerous place for members of the LGBTQ+ community, despite the progress made to make the world more accepting. Events such as the Drag Queen Story Hour are meant to show queer representation to children and normalize not fitting with traditional gender norms, but they are instead branded as ‘grooming events’ and a breeding grounds for predators. Queer people are the victims here, not the children who were simply being taught about self-love and acceptance.