Right-Wing Anti-LGBT Rhetoric Slammed After Colorado Springs Club Shooting

Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric pushed by the right-wing faced condemnation on Sunday following a deadly Colorado Springs, Colorado shooting at an LGBTQ club.

Colorado Springs police said Sunday 22-year-old Anderson Lee Aldrich allegedly began shooting inside Club Q just before midnight, killing five people and injuring 18 others. The shooting shook up many in the LGBTQ community—who have raised concerns about a resurgence of anti-gay and anti-trans rhetoric from some right-wingers—on Sunday.

Although police have not confirmed the shooter's motive and continue investigating whether or not this was a hate crime, many have tied the shooting to anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.

Experts have noted a resurgence of the "groomer" accusations against many in the LGBTQ community. While rhetoric baselessly associating the community with pedophilia is not new, it faced a resurgence this year amid a wave of anti-LGBTQ activism and policies pushed in conservative-led states.

Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric condemned after Colorado Springs shooting
In this image, a Colorado Springs community service officer speaks with a Pueblo resident near the LGBTQ Club Q, where a gunman opened fire and killed five people late Saturday night. In the shooting’s aftermath, many are condemning anti-LGBTQ rhetoric espoused by the right-wing. JASON CONNOLLY/AFP via Getty Images

Groomer accusations have been recently thrown against the LGBTQ community at pride events, gay bars and drag queen story-times, which have faced at-times violent protests from right-wingers who accuse the community of targeting children. These accusations are generally seen as baseless and offensive.

Representative Nydia Velazquez, a New York Democrat, said Republican politicians who have pushed anti-LGBTQ rhetoric share responsibility for the attack.

"Every GOP politician spewing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric bears responsibility for the Colorado Springs shooting," she tweeted. "Every GOP politician who says that guns aren't the problem bears responsibility for the Colorado Springs shooting. Enough."

Brianna Wu, a former Congressional candidate and executive director of Rebellion PAC, tweeted: "This spike of hate crimes is very clearly on Libs of TikTok, Matt Walsh and the anti-trans mainstream media that has smeared LGBT people as sexual deviants."

"The shooting in Colorado Springs is yet another reminder that thoughts and prayers don't help. Also vilifying the LGBTQ community doesn't help either because in doing so they become a target. Why is it so hard to just leave people alone and let them live? What a tragedy," tweeted singer-songwriter Malynda Hale.

President Joe Biden condemned violence against the LGBTQ community in a statement released after the shooting, noting that transgender women of color experience gun violence at particularly high rates.

"Places that are supposed to be safe spaces of acceptance and celebration should never be turned into places of terror and violence. Yet it happens far too often. We must drive out the inequities that contribute to violence against LGBTQI+ people. We cannot and must not tolerate hate," Biden wrote.

Writer Elad Nehorai tweeted: "This is where it was always going to go, ever since the moral panic incited by Republicans and the countless hate-spewing right wing influencers on here who targeted queer people mercilessly. Queer activists have been warning us. Absolutely devastating."

Colorado Governor Jared Polis, who in 2019 became the first openly gay man elected governor in any U.S. state, wrote in a statement that Colorado "stands with our LGBTQ community and everyone impacted by this tragedy as we mourn."

"This is horrific, sickening, and devastating," he wrote. "My heart breaks for the family and friends of those lost, injured, and traumatized in this terrible shooting."

Police have arrested Aldrich, and the shooting remains under investigation. Officers located two firearms at the scene.

"Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBT citizens. Every citizen has the right to feel safe and secure in our beautiful city. The suspect entered Club Q and then immediately began shooting at people inside as he moved further into the club," Colorado Springs Police Department Chief Adrian Vasquez said during a press conference Sunday.

Newsweek has contacted the local police and Club Q for further comment.