As investigators continue to gather clues about Saturday night's shooting in a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub that has left 5 people dead and 25 people injured as of Monday afternoon, LGBTQ rights groups have said that there is an increased state of fear and panic.
Sarah Kate Ellis, the CEO and president of GLAAD, joined GMA3 Monday to talk about the fear and aggravation felt in the community and had some strong words for people and groups that have recently increased their anti-LGBTQ rhetoric.
GMA3: Authorities are going to investigate this, look into whether or not this was a hate crime. But what is your reaction to what we are seeing now in Colorado Springs over the weekend?
SARAH KATE ELLIS: Sure. Motive aside, I think what we're seeing is a 12-year high in hate crimes, [a] 41% increase against the trans community alone. And I think that we're seeing three things drive this. One are anti-LGBTQ politicians who have proposed over 300 anti-LGBTQ policies this year or bills this year for no good reason, answering and solving no problem that exists.
Secondly, we're seeing social media platforms amplify hate. It's actually part of the business model is that the more viral the hate, the deeper the hate, the worse the more viral it is. So they make money off of it. So they have the tools to stop it, the lies, the misinformation, but they don't use them.
And then thirdly…is the inaction by government on gun safety reform. Where are we on that and on social media platform accountability? So those three things have driven an environment that makes the LGBTQ community completely unsafe. Even here in New York City on Saturday night, a brick was thrown through the window of an LGBTQ bar in Hell's Kitchen, the fourth time in one week. We at GLAAD have recorded over 100 either violent or violent threats to drag queen events through this year. So it's real, it's happening. And it results in what we saw on Saturday night.
GMA3: Yeah, I know you get chills just hearing you talk about not just the rhetoric, not just the legislation that's being proposed, but the actual actions that are being taken against this community. What needs to be done? What would you like to see happen?
ELLIS: I need politicians to stop. Just stop using the LGBTQ community as their political football. Stop creating and spreading lies about our community. Stop. Just stop. [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis, [Colorado Rep.] Lauren Boebert, stop it.
Secondly, I need social media companies, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to step up and stop profiting off of this hate and this misinformation.
And thirdly, we need government to speak up and speak out and take action. That's what we need. And it's not a secret formula. It's all here. We have all the resources at GLAAD.org to stop this culture of hate and misinformation and disinformation. I would like to say also that as GLAAD we're on the ground in Colorado Springs, we're helping Club Q, a very small community in Colorado Springs that's LGBTQ. So we're there helping them get through this right now.
There is a fund called the Colorado Healing Fund. A lot of people are asking how they can help right now, and that's one way that goes directly to the victims. It's been vetted and it's a fund that has been used in the past and in these mass shootings.