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Club Q Shooting, Anti-LGBTQ Policies at World Cup: 'Engagement' Guarantees Nothing

Updated: Jan 25

Gods, I’m so damn tired. I’m so damn angry. Five people killed and more injured by a shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ bar. Folks were there simply to have fun, enjoy a drink and a drag show and dance. This in a year when right-wing extremists are openly targeting drag performances across the U.S. and legislation against the trans community totals in the hundreds of bills introduced.

I know—I’ll distract myself by watching a few World Cup soccer matches. Think again! The Middle East is much worse for LGBTQ folks, including Qatar where the World Cup is currently being played. LGBTQ folks routinely face beatings, imprisonment and violation of basic human rights. Qatar had made assurances that fans could wear LGBTQ symbols, but it doesn’t look like they communicated that to World Cup security teams. Fans have been temporarily detained and told to remove hats, shirts and similar items promoting LGBTQ acceptance. FIFA itself—in what some say is a violation of its own human rights statements—have forbidden soccer teams to wear “One Love” armbands or face fines and other punishments.

Where to even start. What’s it to these ignorant extremists if someone wants to go to a drag show or a gay bar? If you don’t like it or don’t want your children there, then don’t go! If others want to go, who are you to say they can’t? Who are you to infringe on someone else’s freedom? Why must you obsess over what others do in their own lives? Worry about your own damn life.

And I love travel and experiencing other cultures. When I go to other countries, I try to respect their cultures. Even though I’m gay, I’d love to visit a Middle Eastern country some day. But in Qatar’s case, if you’re hosting a huge international event like the World Cup and want people to come and spend money, you need to make people feel welcome. If you’re saying to millions of people, people who are different from you, “Hey, come to my house and be my guest,” but when they arrive, you tell them all the things they can’t do and that some people aren’t even welcome at all, well, maybe you shouldn’t be holding these kinds of events. And FIFA is to blame as well. The reality is that despite all the sweet-talk, it's still ok to discriminate against LGBTQ folks. We’re the ones who are supposed to conform, change and understand the bigots. Take the statement by FIFA’s Gianni Infantino: “Today, I have very strong feelings. … I feel gay. … I feel like them because I know what it feels like to be discriminated, to be bullied as a foreigner in a country. … What do you do then? … You try to engage … You don’t start accusing or fighting, you start engaging. This is what we should be doing.”

Well, Gianni, I disagree. I’ve been trying to engage my entire life, playing nice, trying to understand, etc. Has any of that made any difference when I could be killed while enjoying a drag show? Has any of it made any difference when I still must hide who I am? I don’t have to do any of this, Gianni. Honestly, I don’t need Qatar or FIFA or the World Cup. You can all make your money elsewhere. And I don’t owe these extremists closer to home any explanation. I’m not the one trying to legislate you out of existence. I’m not the one advocating violence against you from my lofty, privileged position as a lawmaker, politician or religious leader. I don’t owe any of them a single damn thing.

And spiritually speaking, my Pagan tradition allows me to be angry, it allows me to protect myself and loved ones from those who would do us harm. Yes, I’ll respect you and leave you alone to live however you want—but you sure as hell better give me the same.

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