As Democrats' control of the House of Representatives comes to a close, members are using their remaining time to shine a light on important issues plaguing the country. This week, the House Oversight Committee will explore the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate in the country.
On Wednesday, the committee will hear from survivors of gun violence in LGBTQ+ spaces, most recently at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
NBC News reports that the committee will listen to testimony from Club Q bartender Michael Anderson, patron James Slaugh, and co-owner Matthew Haynes. Brandon Wolf, who survived the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, where a gunman murdered 49 people, will also speak with the committee.
This hearing is in response to the national onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric from right-wing politicians, the torrent of anti-LGBTQ+ policies enacted across the country, and the escalating threats to hospitals that offer gender-affirming care to transgender children.
Amid recent Department of Homeland Security terror alerts warning LGBTQ+ communities to be prepared against targeted attacks, fear among queer and trans people is rising.
The Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs last month marked the culmination of months-long attacks against the LGBTQ+ community by Republican politicians, right-wing provocateurs, and conservative media personalities.
In the run-up to the 2022 midterm election, the American right aimed squarely at LGBTQ+ communities in general, with a particular focus on drag queens and transgender people.
"Make no mistake, the rise in anti-LGBTQI+ extremism and the despicable policies that Republicans at every level of government are advancing to attack the health and safety of LGBTQI+ people are harming the LGBTQI+ community and contributing to tragedies like what we saw at Club Q," Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York told NBC News.
Maloney is the outgoing chairperson of the committee.
The alleged shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, entered Club Q on November 19, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, and began to fire, but soon several heroic patrons subdued the shooter. Before they were able to disable the shooter, five people died, and about 20 others were wounded.
Shortly after the shooting, a number of witnesses to the incident spoke to The Advocate about the terrifying ordeal.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks firearms-related incidents across the country, there were 626 mass shootings in 2022.
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday and will be livestreamed.