GLAAD and Club Q Survivors Address House Oversight Committee about Anti-LGBTQ Hate

December 14, 2022


Today survivors of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured approximately 20 others joined GLAAD and other advocates in providing testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, extremism and violence.

View the video of the testimony here.

The hearing examined how the surge of anti-LGBTQ policies advanced by Republican lawmakers and the proliferation of extreme anti-LGBTQ rhetoric are fueling a rise in violence against LGBTQ people in the United States. Speakers included individuals who have experienced the impact of this violence firsthand.

Committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney's (D-NY) opening remarks noted the rise in violent attacks on LGBTQ spaces and events, the extreme escalation in "hateful pieces of legislation" from GOP legislators targeting LGBTQ people and history, and the rise in “groomer” and similar anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and extremist language on social media and in public discourse.

In her testimony to the committee, Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD (testimony below), said, “I want to be very clear. We currently live in an unsafe America for LGBTQ people. The horrific attack at Club Q is yet one more avoidable symptom of a larger epidemic plaguing our nation—a culture of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and violence from politicians and political extremists… There is a direct line from dangerous words to violent behavior for the LGBTQ community. We can stop the lies and violence only if we work together. We all deserve to be safe in America.”

James Slaugh, one of the survivors of the Club Q shooting who was at the venue that night along with his boyfriend Jancarlos Dell Valle, his brother Mark, and his sister Charlene, testified saying, “Every American, especially those elected to positions of power, has a responsibility and a choice to use their words consciously. Hate starts with speech. The hateful rhetoric we’ve heard from elected leaders is the direct cause of the horrific shooting at Club Q. We need elected leaders to demonstrate language that reflects love and understanding, not hate and fear. I urge LGBTQ Americans and allies to join together today as one community. Hateful people want to drive us back into closets and to live our lives in fear, but we cannot be afraid. No bullets will stop us from being proud of who we are or will injure the support and love that exist in our community.”

Michael Anderson, the only Club Q bartender to survive the shooting, said: “I encourage you all to work together to save our children and adults, and in turn, save ourselves and the soul of our nation. Hate speech turns into hate action, and actions based on hate almost took my life from me, at 25 years old. I beg you all to consider your words before you speak them, for someone may use those words to justify action—action that may take someone’s life. To my fellow LGBTQ community, events like this are designed to discourage us from speaking and living our truth. They are designed to scare us from living openly, courageously, and proudly. We must not succumb to fear, we must live prouder and louder than ever before. We must continue to be who we are, for who we are is exactly who we are meant to be.”

Matthew Haynes, the founding owner of Club Q, testified: “Club Q has been a home for the community for 20 years. We are proud to say it will once again become the home for our community. One man full of hate will not destroy us. LGBTQ venues and small businesses across our nation are extensions of family for us all. And for many, they are the only places we can find acceptance. We need safe spaces like Club Q more than ever. And we need you, as our leaders, to support and protect us.”

Dr. Jessie Pocock spoke about her work leading Inside Out Youth Services for LGBTQ youth in Colorado Springs: "We want young people to feel loved & included. We want them to is not okay that we expect more maturity & compassion from our youth than the public servants entrusted with their care.

Over the past year, a record-high number of over 300 anti-LGBTQ bills were proposed in state legislatures. Twenty children’s hospitals received bomb threats for providing medically safe and best practice health care to transgender youth. There were nearly 150 attacks on LGBTQ events. Since 2015, hate crimes have increased by 40%. And a new GLAAD poll found 48% of all LGBTQ respondents and 72% of transgender respondents fear for their safety in the current environment. A significant majority of the LGBTQ community—a startling 70%—says that discrimination has increased over the past two years. 

Since the deadly shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs in late November, GLAAD has worked closely to support the owners, survivors, and families of those impacted by the tragedy.

Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashely Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance
Club Q shooting victims: Daniel Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashely Paugh, Derrick Rump, and Raymond Green Vance

About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.