Drag queens hiring armed guards after Club Q shooting: ‘It’s terrifying, but that’s the reality’

Jinkx Monsoon

Drag queens in the US are hiring armed guards for some of their shows, to keep themselves and their fans safe, following November’s harrowing Club Q shooting.

The Colorado Springs attack, which happened on the Club’s “Drag Divas” night (19 November) left five dead and at least 25 injured. The attack followed months of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and legislation from the US right-wing.

Now, some of the country’s most prominent drag queens are being forced to take extreme measures to prevent future attacks.

RuPaul’s Drag Race season five winner and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season seven champion, Jinkx Monsoon, has said she recently added armed guards to an already-robust violence prevention plan at her shows.

“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’,” Monsoon told NBC News.

Monsoon’s US events were already equipped with metal detectors and venue escape routes, but since the Club Q shooting, she has hired armed guards and banned re-entry after the start of her performances.

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Another drag star, Alaska Thunderf**k 5000, said police cars have been stationed near her performance venues at several of her recent gigs.

“It’s mortifying that we even have to think about these things for something as joyous and celebratory as a drag show,” the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season two winner said.

In the days after the Club Q shooting, Alaska said she deliberated with her team about venue escape routes on her nationwide tour.

“Why do we have to be worried about where the exits are and where a safe route to get to safety is?” Alaska told NBC.

“It’s terrifying, but that’s the reality of it.”

After Club Q, queerphobic rhetoric still looms

While drag queens worry about the lives of their fans and community, right-wing politicians and media personas have doubled down on the same rhetoric many – including Club Q owner Nic Grzecka – argue prompted the Colorado Springs violence in the first place.

Grzecka said politicians have furthered a narrative relating drag queens to “groomers”, adding that this type of misinformation has created “a new type of hate”.

“I would rather be spit on in the street than get the hate as bad as where we are today,” Grzecka said in an interview with the Associated Press.

LGBTQ+ nonprofit GLAAD has reported 124 anti-drag attacks in the US this year alone, with 47 states seeing at least one attack – some from armed hate groups.

Since the Club Q shooting, Monsoon said some of her old music videos have been trolled incessantly online. The comments echo the same right-wing accusation – that drag queens are “grooming” and “sexualising” children.

“Because they can’t call us ‘f****ts,’ because we have enough support behind us, they call us ‘groomers’ and ‘pedophiles’ instead,” Monsoon told NBC.

The Club Q shooter is being held without bond and facing possible hate crime charges.