I’ve been thinking a lot these past two days about how weak hate is. How it hides behind computer keyboards and semi-automatic rifles. How it can’t imagine any other way to process the beautiful diversity of the world than through a politics of cruelty and elimination.
Hate can roar, hate can lash out, hate can even kill, but underneath its bombastic veneer, it is a whimpering, ugly, and pathetic feeling. It is what cowards are made of.
I can’t pretend to know what exactly motivated the Club Q gunman, who killed five people in the Colorado Springs LGBTQ+ nightclub on Saturday night. That will be for a jury to decide. But I know that he was weak, and I know that the people who ended his spree displayed the kind of strength that opponents of LGBTQ+ rights will never have.
As more information emerges about how the suspect was taken down, it is hard not to find a certain poignancy in this fact: a drag queen’s high heel provided the punctuation mark on his terror after a brave veteran beat the shooter with his own pistol. Those details have emerged in an interview with Richard Fierro, a 45-year-old former Army major, gave to the New York Times about his experience helping to incapacitate the gunman. (Fierro’s account, the Times noted, has largely been corroborated by local authorities and security footage.)
“I don’t know exactly what I did, I just went into combat mode,” Fierro told the paper. “I just know I have to kill this guy before he kills us.”
Fierro, who was at the bar with his family, says he saw the gunman begin to move toward an outdoor patio, presumably to shoot at patrons who had fled, and knew that he had to act. He rushed the gunman, knocking the rifle out of his hands. Noticing that the gunman had a pistol, Fierro says he grabbed the secondary weapon and began beating the killer over the head with it.
And then, in a stunning display of queer and trans bravery, Club Q patrons joined the fight, removing the rifle from the fracas. Amid Fierro’s firsthand account, he noted that a drag performer “stomped on the gunman with her high heels,” as the Times paraphrased. Other accounts, like those published in The Advocate describe all the “mini-heroes” who helped ensure the safety of the survivors as the scene unfolded.