CADY: LGBTQ+ members should not have to be killed in mass to be granted media coverage

Photo+from+Wikimedia+Commons.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

As a journalist myself, I recognize the lack of media coverage being given to LGBTQ+ people, and with a contrasting rise in violence against them, that must change. 

Ashley Paugh, Daniel Aston, Derrick Rump, Kelly Loving and Raymond Green Vance all lost their lives this past Saturday due to senseless violence.

A gunman entered Club Q, LGBTQ+ night club, in Colorado Springs and killed five people while injuring at least twenty-five others Nov. 19. Despite the ongoing investigation, it seems clear that this was a hate crime due to the nightclub’s strong ties to the queer community. 

This act of terror was reminiscent of other large-scale attacks launched at locations commonly frequented by members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. And it once again sheds light on the fact that homophobia, hate crimes and targeted violence are all persistent issues in America.

When we talk about gun violence, we often discuss the overarching issues: How people’s access to firearms should be regulated, how to prevent this violence and how to act in the event that it breaks out. What seems to be brushed over is how the LGBTQ+ community is specifically affected by gun violence at a disproportionate rate. 

LGBTQ+ people are twice as likely to be victims of gun violence compared to their cisgender and straight peers. This is a harrowing statistic in itself, but why do LGBTQ+ people have to be killed in large amounts to be granted attention and media coverage?

Although it may seem that the conversation surrounding the LGBTQ+ community has become more widely discussed in recent times, it’s important to remember that we started from the very bottom. 

The year 2021 was the deadliest for transgender people in America. The Human Rights Campaign reported that at least 57 transgender individuals were murdered — an increase by 44 from the previous year. Yet, LGBTQ+ people are still receiving minimal coverage.

Media Matters, a nonprofit organization that monitors misinformation and lack of coverage for the transgender community, monitored national news organizations in 2021 and worked to cover anti-trans violence. 

The findings are contemptible. 

Between the media outlets ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, there were 43 total minutes spent covering anti-trans violence despite the intense surge in violence. This was a 20% drop from the previous year in juxtaposition to the rise in violence from the previous year. 

The only time we see prominent coverage surrounding members of the LGBTQ+ community seems to be when it is too significant to ignore. Que the newspapers sprawled across stands, doorsteps and college campuses reporting on the Colorado Springs killing spree. Where was this kind of uproar all year long?

Regina “Mya” Allen — a Black transgender woman — was murdered in Milwaukee Aug. 29. Yet, I only saw her name in print as I conducted extensive research on this issue. 

Allen was described as a “beloved and beautiful soul who served as an inspiration to younger transgender girls in her community.” She deserved better — she didn’t deserve to lose her life at the hands of hate and senseless violence. And now, she deserves to be remembered just as every member of the LGBTQ+ community deserves to be. 

It seems that we only really hear of the trials and tribulations that LGBTQ+ people face when it happens on a widespread level and to an extreme degree. While it is so important to cover these tragic events and mass killings, it should not be the only time. 

Members of the media need to make a more conscious effort to have LGBTQ+ content pervade the news. 

As a journalist, I am constantly pushing myself to be considerate of every community that I can report on. I am not a Black woman, but I am doing Black women everywhere a disservice if I do not report on their experiences. I am not a man, but I am doing men a disservice everywhere if I do not report on their experiences. I am not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, but I am doing LGBTQ+ people everywhere a disservice if I do not report on their experiences. 

The Colorado Springs nightclub shooting is repulsive, terrifying and tragic, but it should serve as a wake-up call in more ways than one. I do not have control over gun control policy, and I cannot prevent violence everywhere, but I can use my voice to amplify the issues of the LGBTQ+ community. And, I encourage members of the media everywhere to join me in the effort to show my alliance to LGBTQ+ people by telling their stories and recognizing the importance of their presence in this world.

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached at [email protected]