Five minutes before worship started on Sunday I learned of the horrific attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs. The assailant has now been charged with biased motivated crimes, but it was pretty clear right away that we were dealing with a hate crime to some degree. The more I reflect on this, the more angry I get. We saw this coming.
Over the last couple of years there has been a movement on the right that boldly and plainly marginalizes LGBTQ+ persons and their allies. I want to be clear that it’s not everyone on the right, but a movement does exist there. The “Don’t Say Gay” law in the Florida schools and the criminalizing of gender affirming care with minors in Texas make this abundantly clear. Along with this also comes damaging and dangerous rhetoric from politicians all over the nation. They label allies to LGBTQ+ kids and youth “groomers” and “pedophiles”. Politicians like Ted Cruz saying “my name is Ted Cruz and my pronouns are ‘kiss my ass'” is simply a verbal assault on trans and non-binary people. Lauren Boebert saying “bring your kids to church, not drag shows”, when The Church has been a primary source of trauma for LGBTQ+ folx further marginalizes and even traumatizes many queer people, especially those she represents.
While there have been angry, homophobic people who wish death on LGBTQ people long before this new wave of homo/transphobic politicians, it’s high time we all see the line between their rhetoric/laws and the hate crimes that follow, such as what happened at Club Q. The line is not long, and it is direct.
Colorado Springs borders Lauren Boebert’s district, one of the leaders in this lethal rhetoric, and all she could say about about this was “The news out of Colorado Springs is absolutely awful. This morning the victims & their families are in my prayers. This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly”. It’s nice that she names the victims (though even that is tone deaf as many of them probably want nothing to do with her prayers), but she also refuses to name who the victims are and why this happened. She can’t. She can’t stand with the LGBTQ+ community in her neighboring district after such a horrific attack, because if she did, it would make her a groomer. It’s why there is a piercing silence on the right on this matter this week.
We have all kinds of issues to debate. Our whole system is built on politicians debating what the best policies and laws to make for a more safe and prosperous America are. So, yes, let’s argue out what to do about the economy and crime and immigration and a whole host of other issues. But there is a very real problem on the right, friends, when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights and safety. They want to criminalize parents who provide gender affirming care to their trans kids (see Texas). They want to erase LGTBQ+ identifying students and faculty in their schools (see Florida). And they are ginning up fear of the LGBTQ+ community “coming for our kids”, as a means to marginalize and gain power. Just what do we think is going to be the result of such laws, practices, and rhetoric?
Friends, if you care about the LGTBQ+ community, you cannot turn a blind eye to this. While I am an unabashed progressive, I understand why many of you vote more conservatively. I know many of you genuinely believe that many conservative ideas will lead to a genuinely more prosperous and safe America. I know your heart is good, and I understand that some of these issues simply aren’t as clear as I and others sometimes want to make them out to be. And we should debate these out. But, friends, this one is clear. And it is not up for debate. Queer lives and wellbeing simply are not up for debate. Yet we have a contingent on the right leading an attack on the LGBTQ+ community in name of some kind of “religious and parental freedom”. It’s not freedom. It’s oppression and erasure. It’s not even subtle. It’s clear. And it is doing very real and active harm.
If you care about LGBTQ+ lives, safety, and prosperity, vet it out. Vet out where your elected officials stand on this before you plug your nose about it vote for them. Those politicians advocating for these kinds of laws and who spread this hateful, violence inciting rhetoric need to be called out, and it’s going to be those on the on the right to do so. Because I just get labeled as a “woke extremist”. So vet them out, friends. And fight. Fight like hell against this dangerous, violence inciting rhetoric designed to make you afraid of LQBTQ+ people and their allies. It is doing real harm, the worst and most clear of which we saw in Colorado Springs on Saturday night.