After Donald Trump supporters held up "We Are Q," "Where we go one, we go all," and "#QAnon" signs at his Tuesday campaign rally, the country is wondering who these people are and for what are they advocating.
The short answer? QAnon is a political conspiracy theory, whose overarching message is that the president's erratic acts are planned parts of a covert fight against the so-called "deep state."
What is QAnon?
According to Vox, QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory that started on sites like 4chan in October 2017 and has since garnered thousands of believers. It is sometimes referred to as "the Storm." QAnon knits together various other conspiracy theories to draw often wacky links between unrelated events.
What are QAnon's (debunked) theories?
1) The Russia Investigation is a fake cover story for Robert Mueller and Trump, who are actually working to expose that top Democrats are secret Satan worshippers running a global child sex trafficking ring. The assailants, of course, include Hillary Clinton, a la Pizzagate.
2) The GOP intentionally lost Roy Moore's bid for Jeff Session's Alabama Senate seat to reveal that voting machines are under the control of George Soros, the Rothschilds, the Illuminati, or whoever best fits your personal prejudices.
3) The CIA put North Korea's Kim Jong Un into power.
4) Hillary Clinton and Senator John McCain are secretly under arrest and wearing ankle monitors.
Can anyone confirm that Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton and John McCain have this boot on their leg? Rumor is going around that they have an ankle monitor they're trying to cover up. Were they indicted? #FollowTheWhiteRabbit pic.twitter.com/ZcExtRUQiU
— Becki Percy (@becki_p20) November 17, 2017
5) There has never been a scandal in Trump's White House. Every firing, leak, and trade war has all been a part of the president's plan.
Who supports it?
Roseanne Barr has tweeted her support for the conspiracy theory, claiming, "President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds this month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere. notice that." Alex Jones has also pushed the theory.
But more mainstream conservatives like Sean Hannity have spewed QAnon nonsense as well.
How did QAnon get its following?
During an October 5, 2017 military dinner, Trump said the event was “Maybe the calm before the storm.” When a reporter asked, “What storm, Mr. President?” Trump answered, “You’ll find out.”
TRUMP: "Maybe it's the calm before the storm."
REPORTER: "What storm Mr. President?"
TRUMP: "You'll find out." (via Satellite News) pic.twitter.com/bWMzGrDPNa
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 5, 2017
Though most would interpret the interaction as typical Trump nonsensical-speak, an anonymous user on 4chan, who claimed to be a high-level government informant, called it a reference to a larger plan.
"HRC extradition already in motion effective yesterday with several countries in case of cross border run. Passport approved to be flagged effective 10/30 @ 12:01am. Expect massive riots organized in defiance and others fleeing the US to occur," the user wrote. "US M’s will conduct the operation while NG activated. Proof check: Locate a NG member and ask if activated for duty 10/30 across most major cities."
Followers nicknamed the user "Q" after the Department of Energy's Q-level security clearance for top-secret information.
The misspelled posts continued adding phrases to 4chan that have been the basis of all these theories. Claims include that Trump was on a mission to take down Clinton and her co-conspirators, and he was intentionally ignoring intelligence agencies to protect the public.
"Do you believe HRC, Soros, Obama etc have more power than Trump? Fantasy," Q wrote. "Whoever controls the office of the Presidecy [sic] controls this great land. They never believed for a moment they (Democrats and Republicans) would lose control. This is not a R v D battle."
QAnon followers went on to spread misinformation that Huma Abedin (former Clinton staffer and wife of Anthony Weiner) was secretly working for the Muslim Brotherhood. Now that Batt tweet makes sense, right?
Who Is Q?
The 4chan user Q has tried to prove it has real intel, posting pictures that its followers claimed were taken on Air Force One. Some believe it's Trump and other's think its John F. Kennedy, Jr. (who they claim faked his 1999 death.)
Even though Q has made claims that the Emergency Broadcast System would go off in November – which it didn't, as it was replaced by the Emergency Alert System in 1997 – Q's followers remain loyal.
How can QAnon affect the LGBTQ community?
Actually, a number of LGBTQ people, mainly gay men, believe in this conspiracy theory. They preach that Roseanne and Trump are there to protect queer people.
Being #LGBT was tough in the 90s. I was beaten & hospitalized. Plastic surgery required to mend wounds.
Celebs & politicians ignored the gay community. @therealroseanne was not one of them.
She isn’t a bigot in any sense of the word. In fact, a champion for minorities.#QAnon
— QAnon +++ (@MagniFieri) May 31, 2018
In humorous posts, some have interpreted the name to refer to closeted gay people.
I thought it was the name of an anonymous gay hookup site #QAnon
— Blue Hat (@darksn4ke) August 2, 2018
#QAnon is 'Queer-Anon'. A group of closeted, self loathing homosexuals. Usually young white Christian conservative males obsessed with interracial gay porn.
— Boojum Boojum (@Boojum402) August 2, 2018
What would be really funny is if some liberals are pretending to be a top guy in the government passing out conspiracies & getting these guys to wear these #QAnon shirts. QAnon means closeted gays. You are not in an anti-Obama/HRC, pro-Trump group. You're being played., #MAGA
— Pat Fowlkes (@peffowlkes) August 2, 2018
But there are also homophobic portions of the conspiracy theory crowd.
The only Qanon I hate are the ones claiming that gay people are pedophiles who think they should be murdered.
— Betty Rubble (@MsRubble665) August 1, 2018
There are even people who claim that same-sex marriage is part of the Satanic new world order being created by Q and Trump's enemies. Many are calling to repeal it.
— E. Chrysler (@ChryslerElaine) August 2, 2018
These ppl are sick indeed. Back when the gay marriage debate was happening, the defense was "its none of your business who someone loves." Many of us made this case here as being the next step. We were ridiculed. #rightagain #WWG1WGA #Qanon https://t.co/vkRmTsLAlh
— Jasen August +++ (@JasenAugust) July 31, 2018
We have a LOT of Gays in the GOP & NO ONE has EVER talked about "killing" Gays...l warn you that we HATE Pedophiles & PedoVores... & they are TRYING to join the LGBTQ community... Don't Let Them! They go by NAMBLA or MAPS, Minor Attracted people. Radical Islam kills Gays. #QAnon pic.twitter.com/semui81KX7
— Lanie (@LanieLou5) August 1, 2018
Long story short, not only is QAnon crazy, it's homophobic, and could be dangerous.
Why Should You Worry?
QAnon is no longer just on 4chan. It's in the real political world, with its followers showing their stripes at rallies. The more exposure this group receives, the more people who might become convinced of its disturbing conspiracies.
Conspiracy theories can have dangerous consequences. Experts worry that, like in the instance of Pizzagate, violence or the threat of it might result from QAnon. Already, an armed man with a suspected affiliation with the group was arrested for blocking a bridge over Hoover Dam with an armored vehicle.
When the crazy people on Twitter start showing up at rallies, it stops being a tweet and becomes a potential nightmare.