Club Q, Pulse survivors to testify at House committee hearing on anti-LGBTQ violence, extremism

The United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Image by MotionStudios from Pixabay)

The full committee hearing entitled “The Rise of Anti-LGBTQI+ Extremism and Violence in the United States,” is scheduled to take place Wednesday, Dec. 14.

This is likely to be one of the committee’s last before Republicans take control of the House. Thus House Democrats on the committee have decided to schedule the panel with the survivors of the Club Q and Pulse Shootings, and representatives from the National Center for Transgender Equality, Inside Out Youth Services, and the Williams Institute. 

The Pulse nightclub shooting happened in 2016, where a gunman killed 49 people. In November, a gunman opened fire at Club Q killing five people and injuring at least 17 others. The alleged Club Q shooter, Anderson Lee Aldrich, has since been charged with 305 counts in the case. The charges include: first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and bias motivated crimes. 

The Dec. 14 hearing will include testimony from survivors, including Club Q bartender Michael Anderson and James Slaugh, as well as Club Q’s founding partner and co-owner Matthew Haynes. The panel will also hear from Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf.

“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,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the committee on Anti-LGBTQ Threats.

Survivors of the Club Q and Pulse Shootings will speak about their experiences before the House Oversight Committee. 

“Candidates spent at least $50 million on political ads ahead of the 2022 midterm elections targeting LGBTQ rights and transgender youth,” according to Human Rights Campaign research. “At least 25 states aired anti-trans and anti-equality ads, and conservative media amplified the hate.” 

The HRC also reported that “inflammatory ‘grooming’ rhetoric against LGBTQ people surged more than 400 percent on social media following Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law.

According to research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, tweets using slurs against transgender and non-binary individuals has increased 62 percent since Elon Musk’s acquisition on Twitter in October. 

“The Club Q shooting comes as extremist, right-wing lawmakers at every level of government have advanced harmful policies that undermine the ability of the LGBTQI+ people to live authentically. In 2021 alone, state legislators introduced more than 340 pieces of anti-LGBTQI+ legislation, including many that target LGBTQI+ people in classroom settings and healthcare.” 

The House Oversight Committee’s press release added, “Since 2015, hate crimes have increased by 40 percent, with the last two years being the deadliest on record for transgender and gender non-conforming people.”

The panel is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. ET, on Wednesday, Dec. 14. A livestream of the hearing will be available on YouTube and the Committee on Oversight and Reform website.