The deadly shooting at Club Q, one of the few refuges for L.G.B.T.Q. people in Colorado Springs, came at a time when drag events, and the venues that host them, have been subject to frequent threats across the United States.
Drag events, which range beyond nightclub performances to include brunches and readings for children at libraries, have faced complaints for years, and have lately become a subject of increasing focus by right-wing protesters and media figures.
In states across the country, drag events have been threatened with violence in recent months. Some have been canceled over safety concerns; others have been disrupted by protesters. An event in Oregon last month drew about 200 demonstrators, some of whom carried semiautomatic rifles. The Proud Boys, a far-right nationalist group, has protested events in California, Maryland and North Carolina.
Club Q was scheduled to host a drag brunch on Sunday, marking Transgender Day of Remembrance, which commemorates transgender people who lost their lives to anti-transgender violence.
Though the authorities in Colorado Springs have not identified a motive for the attack at the club, officials and witnesses have suggested that the club was targeted because it was one of the few in the city that openly welcomed L.G.B.T.Q. people.
“There are so many clubs — you look at how many clubs are in Colorado Springs, and then you look at how many gay clubs are in Colorado Springs,” Michael Anderson, a bartender at Club Q who was at work when the shooting took place, said in an interview on CNN Monday. “There’s two,” he said.
Events featuring performers in drag have received disapproving coverage from some of the most prominent voices on the political right, including the Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Jesse Watters, who frequently claim that the events are dangerous for children. As Mr. Carlson spoke during one of his broadcasts, a headline on the screen read: “Pervy men dressed as women dance provocatively in front of child for ‘all-age’ brunch at Texas restaurant.”
Similar messages have been prominent on social media, including from “LibsofTikTok,” a right-wing influencer who has highlighted several of the drag events that have been protested. Politicians have amplified the message, including Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has spoken out against “drag bars” on several occasions. On Sunday, Ms. Boebert said on Twitter that the news of the shooting at Club Q was “absolutely awful.”
“This lawless violence needs to end and end quickly,” she said.
The drag library readings have grown in popularity as a way to entertain children while teaching inclusivity.
“Children love dressing up and being imaginative in what they wear,” Rachel Aimee, who coordinated Drag Queen Story Hour in New York, said in 2017. “They see drag queens as people who are doing the same thing, expressing themselves creatively and having fun with it. Also, kids have a much more fluid understanding of gender than most adults do.”