High-profile drag performers are beefing up security following last month’s shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub, Club Q, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
The attack left five people dead and more than a dozen injured after a shooter opened fire during a drag show. The shooting followed months of virulent anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric aimed at drag performers, both online and from Republican lawmakers hoping to score political points by falsely painting drag queens as “groomers” and “pedophiles.”
Now, several RuPaul’s Drag Race alums say they are traveling with increased security, using metal detectors at gigs, and planning escape routes at venues.
“We’re trying to smile and make people happy for the holidays, and in the back of our heads we’re thinking, ‘I hope I don’t get shot,’” Jinkx Monsoon told NBC News.
Monsoon said she was already taking increased precautions due to hostility toward drag performers, which has led to far-right and white supremacist groups protesting at shows and drag queen story hours. Following the Club Q shooting, she says she has hired armed guards and banned re-entry at her shows.
“It’s mortifying that we even have to think about these things for something as joyous and celebratory as a drag show,” said RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2 winner Alaska, who has planned escape routes and had police stationed down the block from venues. “Why do we have to be worried about where the exits are and where a safe route to get to safety is? It’s terrifying, but that’s the reality of it.”
Drag Race Season 11 winner Yvie Oddly shared an email from her management company saying they were hiring additional security for performers and would have security check patrons for guns at gigs.
Monsoon said that her music videos had been flooded with hateful comments recently accusing her of sexualizing children. She added that the incendiary rhetoric and misinformation has begun to affect the way she interacts with fans.
“I don’t like parents bringing their kids to meet me, because I don’t want to be seen next to a kid, because I don’t want to be labeled a pedophile,” she said. “You start to mistrust yourself for no other reason than this language is just being put on you constantly. It is dehumanizing. It makes you feel insane to just be yourself.”
In a National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin issued last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that the LGBTQ+ community was among several potential targets for extremist violence inspired by the Club Q shooting and other bias-motivated attacks. A recent GLAAD report found that there have been at least 124 protests and significant threats at drag events this year.