I do a lot of browsing in gun shops when I’m back home. It’s Texas, after all. You can’t go far on the highway without seeing billboards advertising one a few exits ahead.
Last summer, I was headed home down I-20 after a weekend with my grandparents, a change of pace from my usual route along US 175. I went this way so I could stop by a gun shop that I’d seen advertised along the way from Terrell to Canton, Texas.
It took some navigating down country roads, but I found it eventually. I spent a few minutes inside, conscious of the fact I was the only Latino there – something common in this sort of space. I just pushed it aside and tried to focus on the sheer variety of gear present.
I stayed for a good half-hour browsing. Too much of what I saw that day was out of my price range, so I left with my wallet intact.
As I started up my car though, I caught sight of a sticker on the back glass of the truck parked next to me.
I can’t quote it exactly, but I do remember what it was about. There wasn’t much I could do but sigh as I drove away that day.
I hate that queer people being accused of grooming has become something we put on stickers.
If you accuse a crowd of queer and gender-nonconforming folk of being groomers and the right-wing immediately goes on the attack. The accusation quickly becomes a tool to fuel the flames at the feet of the queer community while they’re being strung up on the cross.
For evidence of the rabid nature that lurks, look at the targeting of drag shows in recent years by the political right. The events in Roanoke, Texas stick in my mind because of their proximity to home.
Anderson Distillery and Grill, a local establishment in Roanoke, was hosting a drag brunch on Aug. 28 of last year. It was open to the public, an all-ages event.
The public, in this case, included a lot of right-wing protestors appalled at the idea of kids being exposed to that which doesn’t conform to society’s heteronormative, cis-centric ideals.
It was clear as a Texas day to me that the protestors there wanted to force folk back into the closet, to make them fear for their lives just because they dared to exist openly and earnestly.
It’s likely that the armed guards standing outside were the only thing keeping the folks inside safe. Security was courtesy of the Elm Fork John Brown Gun Club, a leftist gun rights group. Clad in black, with rifles in hand, they stood guard while anti-queer rhetoric was hurled at them across the street by the drag brunch protestors.
The coverage done by Steven Monacelli on his Twitter shed light on something that is becoming increasingly common across queer communities all over the country as harmful anti-queer rhetoric continues to run rampant.
Spend enough time in the queer circles I frequent, and it’ll quickly become evident that very few folks and friends trust the government to ensure their well-being. Queer folk don’t have any reason to trust the institutions that govern daily life, especially when one considers that many bodies of the government are actively hostile to queer communities in the United States.
Just because same-sex folk can get married at the moment doesn’t mean homophobia is over. Shocking, I know. The history of queer folk fighting for the bare minimum is a long and sordid one, something that reminds onlookers that queer folk have always existed and will continue to do so.
Currently, the ACLU is tracking 409 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in this country. 45 of those come from Texas. These bills would restrict what people can discuss in classrooms, who gets medical care and what sort of public performances are allowed, for instance. It’s clear to me that the Republican Party isn’t on the side of the queer community.
My criticism of Republicans shouldn’t be taken as support of Democrats, those concerned with decorum and bipartisanship in an era when Republican politicians advocate hostility towards queer communities. There is no negotiating with such politicians, not when lives are at stake. In this light, liberal Democrats are nothing but spineless.
No agent of the state can be trusted to ensure the safety of queer communities, not when its ranks are infiltrated by members who would stand aside for Republican politicians as they argue the place queer people occupy in society should be the incinerator.
Is it any surprise then, that queer folk are taking up arms? It shouldn’t be.
They shouldn’t have to live their lives on perpetual alert, eternally aware of the fact that the government hates them and their neighbors view them as a threat. Queer folk deserve long, happy lives – they deserve to live free of fear, the same as everybody.
Such comfort isn’t guaranteed, only because clowns in suits and ties on television have a vested interest in shifting blame away from their economic blunders. Queer folk are an easy target for them. All they need to do is argue that queer folk are the reason why this country is unraveling, that sexual deviancy is at the root of all societal issues.
So long as talking heads like Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson and Jordan B. Peterson feed a significant portion of the public this lie, queer folk will have to take up arms and fight for their right to life. It’s always been a fight for survival. The fact that queer folk have had to grow accustomed to this sort of life is unjust.
In the wake of Roanoke and other similar events, there was an interesting reaction coming out of right-wing pundits. They had been under the impression that most queer folk wouldn’t take up arms, that since they tended to vote Democrat, they would have a revulsion for firearms of any sort.
They were expecting easy targets, and what they got was an armed community.
When one’s life is on the line, under threat from rabid dogs foaming at the mouth, is it any surprise that queer folk reached for one of the most common things in this country to defend themselves with? When survival is all that matters, politics isn’t enough of a concern. After all, what good is politics to the dead?