This is the newsletter of OptOut LGBTQ+, a program of the OptOut Media Foundation led by Liana DeMasi. OptOut maintains a free news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's available for Apple and Android devices. Find out more about the app at

As I was compiling some of the most important LGBTQ+ news over the last two weeks, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened by the fact that this third newsletter of mine will be filled with a long list of accounts and stories about violence and extremism against our community. If I were to fail to include those pieces, I would be ignoring our persistent truth as LGBTQ+ people: that our existence is politicized and, thus, never guaranteed. To read, watch, and listen to these stories daily is to be reminded of that truth, but it is also to be reminded of our perseverance, love, strength, beauty, grace, and power. I want to hold onto and uplift those characteristics as we read through today’s newsletter. As we continue to fight for our liberation, may we remember our value, our light. May we remember we get to define ourselves, and may we continue to hold those responsible who force us to fight so that we might live.

With that, let’s get into it.

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Extremism and Violence

It’s been a little over two weeks since the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs, which I spoke about in my last newsletter. In the wake of that violence, amidst our grief, we have continued to take stock of what bred it.

For this, we can always look at religious extremism, and an anonymous group of activists in Colorado is doing just that. On Nov. 24, the headquarters of Christian extremist group Focus on the Family could be found with the words, “Their Blood is On Your Hands. Five Lives Taken,” plastered across it. Focus on the Family and its lobbying group, Family Policy Alliance, have been credited with spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate and disinformation in Colorado Springs and beyond.

The folks over at UNICORN RIOT take a deep dive into the graffiti facelift this organization so rightfully received.

Queer Colorado Community Responds to Club Q Shooting - UNICORN RIOT
Colorado Springs, CO – In the days since the Nov. 19 shooting at Club Q that left five dead and 25 more injured, the local queer community and their allies have been commemorating the lives lost and comforting those affected. Billed as an all-inclusive nightclub, Club Q has long been a respite for t…
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Anderson Lee Aldrich, the 22-year-old shooter, was formally charged “on more than 300 counts including first-degree murder, attempted murder, assault, and “bias-motivated crimes,” early this month. Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said his office was planning to “prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.”

COLORADO NEWSLINE takes a look at the proceedings thus far.

Club Q shooting suspect formally charged with murder, hate crimes - Colorado Newsline
Investigators allege that Anderson Lee Aldrich, 22, entered Club Q just before midnight on Nov. 19 and began firing at patrons with a rifle.
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Arrest affidavit unsealed in Club Q shooting case - Colorado Newsline
Details about the Nov. 19 mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs were revealed in newly unsealed documents.
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We all know that the prosecution of the shooter won’t erase the past, nor is it likely to deter future acts of violence, because the political arena and far-right media continue to welcome bigotry.

Imara Jones of TRANSLASH spoke to this “highly orchestrated violent extremism” and disinformation on MSNBC.

And David Rosen at COUNTERPUNCH examines the right’s aggressive culture-war agenda.

Sex, the Culture Wars and a Republican Congress
Netflix is current running the movie, Loving, a dramatization of the true historical drama of the interracial love affair and marriage of Richard and Mildred Loving. The film is set in in mid-1950s thru mid-‘60s Virginia and depicts the couples’ friendship and love. It also shows that their sexual…
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It’s no surprise that this continued assault on our community did not cease after the Club Q shooting. Instead, it received a rallying cry of sorts. Threats against LGBTQ+ events and establishments are rampant across the country, heightening fears of violence and retaliation from far-right Christian nationalist groups. Some of the most common targets have been drag shows, performances, and readings, as the far right continues to characterize drag queens and kings as “groomers.”

Both THE BUCKEYE FLAME and MICHIGAN ADVANCE delve into these cases of harassment and intimidation.

Protestors – some armed – attempt to disrupt a (canceled) drag queen story hour [GALLERY]
Protestors and counter protestors were seen arguing religious ideology across High Street.
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Report details how drag events have been targeted with threats and harassment ⋆ Michigan Advance
Updated, 4:04 p.m. 12/2/22 With a month still to go in 2022, a recent analysis found there were more than a hundred incidents nationwide targeting drag performances. GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization, released what it is calling “the first comprehensive count and analysis…
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Coinciding with the “groomer” labels and the onslaught of disinformation about the LGBTQ+ community is a continued attack on trans healthcare.

In Connecticut, the Department of Social Services has imposed widespread and restrictive gender-affirming surgery policies, which hinder individuals' access to care. THE CONNECTICUT MIRROR republished a story on the medical professionals pushing back.

CT imposes restrictive mandates on trans patients, providers say
Advocates say new restrictions on coverage for gender-affirming surgery are almost impossible for HUSKY patients to comply with.
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Similarly, advocates in Florida are preparing to fight further restrictions and bans on medical care for trans youth. The FLORIDA PHOENIX reports.

Advocates prepare for legal challenge to ban on transgender medical care for kids - Florida Phoenix
The DeSantis administration’s drive to deny gender-affirming care to young people in Florida has been hitting snags, including a split between two key oversight boards and publication of the wrong email address to file public comments by one of those boards. At the same time, Southern Legal Counsel,…
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If we can’t find safety in our bars and clubs or at the doctor, then we certainly won’t find it at school or the library. Libraries across the country are in danger of shutting down, as far-right groups lobby to defund them, largely citing their “unacceptable” collection of available books, usually about sexuality, gender, and race. One of these such books is Melissa, which chronicles a coming-of-age-and-gender story of a young trans girl. The book grants representation to trans youth while depicting both positive and negative behaviors that cis-allies should adopt or steer clear of. Far-right groups have, of course, deemed the book “unfit for children,” citing that it might indoctrinate them into transness. As I write this, I think about my own youth, all of the Disney movies I watched, the lessons in class, and the experiences I had that centered cis-heterosexual people. Conservatives must find it peculiar that I turned out queer, despite all that “indoctrination.”

I think about my own youth, all of the Disney movies I watched, the lessons in class, and the experiences I had that centered cis-heterosexual people. Conservatives must find it peculiar that I turned out queer, despite all that “indoctrination.”

Luckily, despite their efforts to the contrary, far-right groups were unable to revoke a Kansas library’s lease “after months of debate about LGBTQ+ content.” KANSAS REFLECTOR has the story.

Kansas town’s library lease renewed after months of debate about LGBTQ content - Kansas Reflector
The Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library’s lease is safe for another year, following community uproar and legal pressure.
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In Nebraska, efforts to ostracize LGBTQ+ students remain strong, as pride flags and stickers are disappearing from classrooms and hallways following vague school policies on the matter. The NEBRASKA EXAMINER dives into this nationwide phenomenon.

Pride flags and ‘safe space’ stickers: signal of student safety or political speech? | Nebraska Examiner
A Millard North principal’s meeting with teachers and emphasize the district’s ban on political posters and items caused a stir.
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Are you a journalist who covers LGBTQ+ issues? If so, apply to join our forthcoming Discord chat community, where you can network with other journalists, discuss solutions for problems in the industry, share your work, and lots more.

Respect for Marriage Act

In an effort to safeguard same-sex and LGBTQ+ marriages in the event that Obergefell is overturned by the rightwing justices on the Supreme Court, Congress passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which President Biden signed into law. This passage is monumental, but it’s important to note that if Obergefell is overturned, LGBTQ+ individuals who live in highly conservative states will likely have to travel to other states in order to get married. Once they return home, however, their marriage will be recognized, as is now federal law.

STATES NEWSROOM (via the ALASKA BEACON) and the IOWA CAPITAL DISPATCH delve into the act and what it means for LGBTQ+ individuals and religious protections.

Biden signs law extending marriage protections to same-sex and interracial couples - Alaska Beacon
Biden told supporters that “marriage is a simple proposition — who do you love and will you be loyal to that person you love.”
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Marriage equality act has religious freedom protections, Ernst says - Iowa Capital Dispatch
The Respect for Marriage Act contains explicit protections for nonprofit religious organizations, Sen. Joni Ernst said defending her vote.
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Missouri Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler cried on the House floor in an attempt to block the act from passing, citing her deep religious faith. Lucky for her, she can still be just as straight, cisgendered, religious, and miserable as she was before the act was passed.

DAVID FELDMAN doesn’t hold back in his take.

And THE HUMANIST REPORT speaks to Hartzler’s gay nephew responding to his aunt’s bigotry on TikTok.

It’s important to mention that along with the celebration of the Respect for Marriage Act comes a concerning case on the Supreme Court’s docket. The case will decide whether Lorie Smith, a religious website designer, will have the right to refuse same-sex couples service. If the court rules in her favor, it will effectively give business owners and people “the license to discriminate.”

ARIZONA MIRROR republished a story that examines the situation.

Justices signal support for designer who won’t help gay couples with weddings
A six-year crusade came to a head at the Supreme Court on Monday, pitting Colorado’s nondiscrimination law against a Christian website designer who refuses to create wedding websites for same-sex couples.
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Some Positives

Before I wrap up, I’ll leave you with some positive LGBTQ+ news.

Brittney Griner is freakin’ free!

DEFECTOR writes about her celebratory release.

Brittney Griner Is Free | Defector
Ten months after being arrested in a Russian airport on trumped-up drug charges, WNBA star Brittney Griner is free.
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Christian Walker is…hilarious?

Herschel Walker’s gay son continues to drag far-right pundits online, which means that I officially have “Christian Walker becomes a liberal” on my 2023 Bingo Card.

Have a laugh about it with THE MAJORITY REPORT.

A 19-year-old Black queer transmasculine college student made GLAAD’s “20 Under 20” list for being a sex educator and changemaker.

THE BUCKEYE FLAME was lucky enough to chat with Lotus Lloyd about his efforts.

19-year-old sex educator/Ohio college student named to prestigious national list of changemakers
We spoke with Lotus Lloyd about the relevance of being a young sex educator and how he uses his voice to make a difference.
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Tell Me Something!

This LGBTQ+ newsletter is for and about you! Do you have an uplifting story to share? Is there something happening in your town that you think our LGBTQ+ readers and allies ought to know? Is there someone I should interview? Is it you? No story is too small—or too big! Email me at with your story, anecdote, or tidbit, and I’ll highlight one in the next newsletter.

All right, I’m off. See you in two weeks!

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