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LGBTQ+ People Take Up Arms as Fears of Right-wing Hate Groups Grow

LGBTQ+ People Take Up Arms as Fears of Right-wing Hate Groups Grow

A pride flag pin with an AR-15 style rifle on it and bullets in the background of the overall image.

One group in New Hampshire says it is providing firearms skills to queer people so they can protect themselves.

Far right-wing radicals in New Hampshire and elsewhere may find themselves outgunned if a trend of LGBTQ+ people taking up arms in the state spreads nationwide.

Fin Smith, an organizer with Rainbow Reload, recently allowed a New Hampshire Public Radio reporter to tag along with their group on a training mission at Pawtuckaway State Park. In light of a rising chorus of threats targeting LGBTQ+ people, including those stemming from hate groups, Rainbow Reload provides a controlled environment for queer gun enthusiasts and experts to practice firearms skills.

The group says it aims to give people the skills they need to protect themselves.

“There’s been an uptick in hate crimes, there’s been an uptick in groups that have been protesting drag story times and drag shows, and it felt like I needed to learn how to protect myself,” another member, Jamie, told NHPR, holding her Christmas gift, a pistol.

“I recognize the temperature is freezing, and this is not the most comfortable,” Smith said to a handful of participants, NHPR reports. “But if it’s raining, we’re training. If it’s snowing, we’re going.”

Some club members say they would have liked to join a shooting club sooner but avoided them because they felt unwelcomed.

Despite a general societal shift in recent years towards the normalizing and public approval of marriage equality for LGBTQ+ couples in American culture, Republicans and those on the right have recently attempted to falsely isolate the community as a collection of “groomers” with a “woke liberal agenda” aimed at indoctrinating kids into seeking medical treatment to change their gender identity.

According to a recent Pew study, noted by NHPR, almost half of Republicans own guns, compared to one-in-five Democrats.

Members of Rainbow Reload are diverse in their opinions and don’t advocate for gun policies, the statsion reports.

Several members of the group explain their reasons for participating.

Sharon, who transitioned recently, explained, “Reading the news, having a few experiences, realizing that I’ve gone from: old cis-male, white, upper middle class, really no real fears about anything, to: there are people that just looking at me will want to hurt me.”

In addition to the tenor of discussions around LGBTQ+ issues nationwide, Rainbow Reload members note that in New England, a newly formed group of neo-Nazis is targeting locations where transgender people may be, the station reports.

“If the world is dangerous, then you have to be dangerous back,” Smith said.

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