After Club Q: Defend Queer and Trans Lives

Image from the Denver Communists

The mass shooting and killing of 5 at Club Q in Colorado Springs, CO on November 19 has shaken us deeply. We are queer folks. We are allies. We have heard the reports of the assault, the voices of the victims and their families. News of the shooting has sent many of us into a tearful rage; it has brought some of us close to numbness or despair.

But most of all, it gives us clarity on the tasks ahead of us.

The murderous rampage on the queer club, which left five dead just minutes before Trans Day of Remembrance, represents the latest violence against trans and queer lives in recent months. The cowardly, vile act is a direct result of a rising far right that has gone after queer people with growing confidence in recent months.

Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump, Raymond Green Vance. These beautiful people had their lives snuffed out at the hands of not just one individual. The killers were not simply a violent right-wing “lone wolf” — a domestic abuser who had threatened his mother. We should lay responsibility for these deaths at the feet of every right-wing media pundit who has called queer teachers and drag queens “groomers”; every politician who has proposed or voted for a “Don’t Say Gay” bill; every Proud Boy, neo-Nazi or Trump supporter who has protested a drag queen story hour.

While the traumatic shock of the event hearkens back to the Pulse Nightclub shooting of 2016, the attack on Club Q occurs at a moment when the fascist far right has grown larger and more confident.

If we hope to get justice for Daniel, Kelly, Ashley, Derrick, and Raymond, we must remember and act accordingly.

Stopping far-right “lone wolves” and defeating organized far-right goons go hand in hand. Closer to home, Boston Children’s Hospital staff have faced neo-Nazi street protests, death threats, and bomb threats for providing trans children and adults healthcare. We can see the pattern. A far-right social media account pushed transphobic misinformation, fascists mobilized, and just last week, another individual called in yet another bomb threat.

Allowing transphobia, white supremacy, and far-right politics to go unchallenged in any form creates a culture that gives lone wolves the confidence to take violent action.

Voting will not solve this. This violence is occurring in “blue” states like Massachusetts and Colorado, even after people turned out to stop the Republicans just two weeks ago. In Colorado, Democrats hold the governor’s office, both chambers of the state legislature, and six out of nine Congressional seats. Voting can have its role, but it has lulled too many into remaining passive when we need everyone out organizing in our communities.

Gun control and police action will not solve this problem, either. Too often gun laws snatch away the right of oppressed people to defend themselves. Meanwhile, the police knew about the killer’s violent history but still provided no protection for the Colorado Springs community. Instead, we should be inspired by the bravery of unarmed Club Q patrons who stopped the killer in his tracks. We must organize collective security to protect spaces of oppressed communities.

We must organize, unite, and deepen relationships with one another. Whether you’re trans- or cisgender; queer or straight; black or white; Indigenous or immigrant; socialist or communist; anarchist or liberal — we must build unity and agree to defend each other and our spaces with mass numbers.

The Boston Revolutionary Socialists stand in solidarity with all those facing threats of a growing far right, both organizations and individuals. We will organize together, and we will win a world where violence like this is a distant, awful memory.