A quick-acting army veteran and a Drag Queen in high heels take down a mass shooter in Colorado
Like most acts of Stochastic Terrorism by deranged MAGAts, the mass shooting that killed five people and injured 18 more at Club Q in Colorado Springs was months in the making.
Maybe the seed was planted when the killer’s own grandpa—a Trump-loving California assemblyman—publicly endorsed the deadly January 6th insurrection.
Maybe the seed was planted in the days after the 30 November 2021 Oxford High School shooting that killed four in Michigan.
That’s when Colorado Congresswoman Lauren Boebert decided to release a family “Christmas card” that had more in common with jihadist recruitment propaganda than with shepherds watching their flocks by night.
Or maybe it was one of the 12 times Rep. Boebert actively stoked LGBTQ violence, propelling her to the Number 3 spot on LGBTQ Nation’s Top 10 list of The Most Hateful People on Twitter. That list, published in August 2022, was based on a study that found that, following passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which took effect July 1:
Anti-LGBTQ grooming rhetoric surged a whopping 406% online… for an average of 6,607 tweets a day, a huge increase from 1,307 tweets the month before.
Slurs included keywords like “groomer”, “pedophile”, “predator”, “molester”, “f**got”, “tr**ny” and “sodomite” in relation to the LGBTQ community.
Marjorie Taylor Greene was top of the list of hateful tweeters. Chaya Raichick, who runs the @LibsOfTikTok account was fourth, just behind Boebert. And Christina Pushaw, press secretary to Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, finished in 6th place.
Tweets from the top ten posters were viewed an estimated 48 million times and were “responsible for driving” the “grooming” narrative, researchers found.
Or maybe the seed was planted by a familiar face on Fox News. Because, of course, Rupert Murdoch’s brainwashing machine has spent much of this election year doing its bit to demonize the LGBTQ community and set the stage for more MAGA terrorism.
As Luke O’Neil notes in his Welcome to Hell World newsletter:
On Friday night, Tucker Carlson was stoking fears about "the sexualization and castration of children" and "drag shows for children." Incredibly common themes for his program and Fox News more generally.
But as Jay Kuo writes in his The Status Kuo newsletter, the specifics of when and how the seed for this act of terror was planted are not important:
We need to view the attack, whatever the murderer’s personal motivations, as the entirely forseeable and statistically predictable result of the hateful and dangerous rhetoric being spewed by politicians and right-wing pundits against the LGBTQ+ community. The same can be said for the assault-weapon attacks upon worshippers at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, the slayings at Young’s Asian Massage parlor outside Atlanta, or any other number of community-directed violent attacks. These attacks don’t arise from nowhere. They grow in number and ferocity the more that extremist political leaders and other agitators direct their hate and suggest violence as the solution.
In October, a man attacked a trans librarian in Boise. Other attacks, by armed men and groups such as the Proud Boys, have disrupted drag-related events in Texas, Nevada and Oregon. At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia — where I once presented a grand rounds lecture on the variety of trans experiences — security has been increased in the wake of threats to its transgender clinic. In Massachusetts, Boston Children’s Hospital reports that its clinicians and staff have received multiple threats of violence.
Boylan also notes:
It was not lost on those of us in the LGBTQ community that the massacre took place on the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day set aside in memory of all the trans people who have lost their lives to violence.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Dan Savage tweeted:
Unarmed queers in a gay bar in Colorado Springs were able to do what hundreds of armed men couldn’t do in Uvalde.
But it wasn’t just “unarmed queers” who took the gunman down.
Army veteran Richard Fierro went into “combat mode”
Why was Army veteran Richard Fierro in Club Q that night?
According to The New York Times, the 45-year-old dad who became a national hero in Club Q was just a guy who had gone out for a fun evening with his wife, their daughter and her boyfriend, and two family friends. They were all at Club Q to watch one of his daughter’s friends perform a drag act.
But maybe the seed for Fierro deciding to watch his first ever drag show on Saturday night was planted when he heard something hateful and inflammatory from a Republican politician like Lauren Boebert or a Fox News viewing dittohead.
Maybe his growing awareness of the dangerous rhetoric being used to target the LGBTQ community—and, increasingly, all those who support their LGBTQ family and friends—made him think he should tag along with his daughter that night. This was, after all a guy, who knew something about defending American freedom:
He’d been shot at, seen roadside bombs shred trucks in his platoon, and lost friends. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star.
When the shooting began in Club Q in Colorado Springs, The New York Times reports that Army veteran Richard M. Fierro “went into combat mode”:
Fierro… described charging through the chaos at the club, tackling the gunman and beating him bloody with the gunman’s own gun…
…As he held the man down and slammed the pistol down on his skull, Mr. Fierro… yelled for another club patron, using a string of expletives, to grab the rifle then told the patron to start kicking the gunman in the face. A drag dancer was passing by, and Mr. Fierro said he ordered her to stomp the attacker with her high heels.
As Fierro told the Times, his Army career was part of what made him “happy” to be an LGBTQ ally:
“These kids want to live that way, want to have a good time, have at it,” he said as he described the night. “I’m happy about it because that is what I fought for, so they can do whatever they hell they want.”
In the post-shooting confusion, Fierro was handcuffed by police and held for an hour. When he met up with his wife and daughter at the hospital, they had only minor injuries. Their friends were wounded more seriously.
And his daughter’s longtime boyfriend was dead.
Raymond Vance was one of the 5 killed by the deranged Club Q gunman. It’s a tragic and unacceptable death toll that would have been much higher if not for the presence of Richard Fierro in the club that night—and the help of others, including a Drag Queen in high heels—as he took the gunman down.
With blood on her hands, Lauren Boebert offered “prayers”
The right-wing media and their internet trolls pretended (of course) that their relentless anti-LGBTQ lies and propaganda had anything to do with the actual attack.
But Pete Buttigieg summed it up this way on Monday night:
In her obligatory post-tragedy tweet, Lauren Boebert called “the news” of the shooting “absolutely awful,” saying, “the victims & their families are in my prayers.”
AOC responded on Twitter:
Lauren Boebert, you have played a major role in elevating anti-LGBT+ hate rhetoric and anti-trans lies while spending your time in Congress blocking even the most common sense gun safety laws. You don’t get to “thoughts and prayers” your way out of this. Look inward and change.
There is, of course, little hope that a performative grifter like Boebert will change in any meaningful way. (Although maybe she will at least leave the guns off her Christmas card this year.)
For the rest of us, Richard Fierro’s words and actions are a powerful reminder: The attack on Club Q wasn’t just an attack on the LGBTQ community. It was an attack on American freedom. The freedom to get together with your LGBTQ friends wherever you damn well please. It was an attack on the freedom that, thankfully, Army veteran Richard Fierro is still willing to risk his life to defend.
Fierro’s words and actions are also a reminder that, in an age of anti-Christian GOP thuggery and violence, defending America is a group activity. We have to look out for each other always and everywhere. When we do, a good guy without a gun and a Drag Queen in heels can show more courage—and do more to save innocent lives—than hundreds of armed cops in Uvalde.
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