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Massacre in Bar Q Proves Once Again that Homophobia Is Systematic

The community has once again been plagued by systematic hate crimes that are fueled by far-right discourse. The recent massacre at Bar Q in Colorado is a sign of growing homophobia.

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LatinAmerican Post | July Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: Masacre en Bar Q vuelve a demostrar que la homofobia es sistemática

Every Saturday at Bar Q in Colorado Springs the “Drag Diva Drag Show” was held, but last Saturday, November 19, in the middle of the show, Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, entered the venue with an AR-rifle 15 round and opened fire, killing 5 people and seriously injuring 18 others. The shooter was stunned by two other assistants, who seized the gun and hit him with it to immobilize him until the police arrived. One of them was a veteran Latino, who was celebrating a birthday with his wife, daughter, and her partner.

Now, amid the grief of families and the community, Aldrich is expected to be indicted on hate crime charges, as the prosecution failed to file the case as a hate crime in court. This not only jeopardizes the weight of the sentence for the perpetrator, but also re-victimizes the deceased, the injured and their families.

This case, in particular, has put both political and force authorities under the magnifying glass for two specific reasons. First, the perpetrator is the grandson of state representative Randy Voepel, known for being a faithful follower of the MAGA movement and for having supported the takeover of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. Second, Aldrich was arrested in June 2021 after being denounced by his own mother for threatening to kill him with a bomb, for carrying weapons and for kidnapping. Not finding the bomb, the police did not charge the young man and did not dispose of his firearms.

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Today, more than a year later, the community is wondering why authorities made the decision not to take Aldrich's guns away. This not only demonstrates the negligence on the part of the public force, but also responds to specific discourses.

The American right has a clear position regarding the use of firearms and also towards people belonging to the LGBTI+ community. They support the first thing with fire and sword, and about de LGBTI+ community they consider it undesirable and seek to impose reprisals. Although this fact cannot be directly blamed on a discourse constructed and fed by the right, it is necessary to recognize the starting points for this type of event to occur.

These attacks, which are undoubtedly systematic, tend to be shielded by those who are in favor of the free use of firearms from the idea that those who commit the crimes have mental illnesses. This not only stigmatizes mental illness, but also avoids the clear lack of attention towards the reactions of a group of people who are being educated from hate speech.

A shooting at a bar where gay, lesbian, queer, and trans people hang out is not just a shooting. It is an obvious hate crime that should be called for what it is, from the institutional to the civil.

As long as these events are not taken seriously for what they are, the possibility of them continuing to happen is very high. Today, the community of Colorado Springs lives it firsthand.

The Tension Rises

This is not the first case of a shooting aimed at LGBT people, since the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Florida in 2016, different similar cases have been repeated. For example, in October, in the state of Idaho, a man was arrested for attacking a trans woman at her workplace (the public library). Prior to the incident, the man had burned a gay pride flag as a threat method.

These constant attacks have caused an escalation on both sides. On Twitter, people have been seen using weapons at trans events to defend themselves from any mishap. People wearing ski masks and armed with assault rifles that were once common to see at far-right events now seem to be replicated on the left.