‘We just want to live:’ Pulse survivor testifies before Congress on recent anti-LGBTQ hate, violence

Brandon Wolf, Club Q shooting survivors, spoke Wednesday on rise of anti-LGBTQ extremism

ORLANDO, Fla.A Pulse nightclub shooting survivor, alongside other victims of mass shootings, testified before a congressional committee aiming to examine the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism and violence in the United States on Wednesday.

Brandon Wolf was one of many who spoke in front of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

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“We need to say without apology that people who endanger entire marginalized communities for social media content and fundraising fodder have no place in our politics,” said Wolf, who also works with Equality Florida.

During his testimony, Wolf shared the intimate details of his story as he recounted the moments a gunman fired shots into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando back in 2016.

In the wake of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa, there’s a renewed debate surrounding gun control in America. Pulse nightclub survivor Brandon Wolf joined anchor Justin Warmoth on “The Weekly” to discuss the shootings and the legislation he’s been pushing for since June 12, 2016.

His testimony was heard along with those who survived the mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured 17 others in November.

“These actions are the culmination of years of anti-LGBTQI extremism that began in state houses across the county and spread to social media platforms before boiling over into the communities where we reside,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney said.

Democratic lawmakers did point to Republicans saying the rise comes from right-wing extremism and anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted within this year 23 states introduced more than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills with 13 of those states passing some into law.

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Florida was also highlighted in one study by HRC analyzing negative language against those in the LGBTQ+ community.

For example, when the Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, passed back in March, more than 6,500 tweets expressed slurs against the LGBTQ+ community, up by 406% from the previous month.

“We are hearing a lot about right-winged extremism and violence, obviously violence, and any type a poison,” Rep. Jody Hice said.

Republican lawmakers noted during the hearing while what’s happening with the LGBTQ+ community is a tragedy, this is more than a one-sided issue.

Multiple speakers said the rise of violent acts has also been seen impacting many more communities from African Americans to religious organizations.

“On this committee, we should be using our time and resources to conduct oversight into the rise of violent crime committed against all Americans and organizations,” Rep. James Comer said.

But for those in the LGBTQ+ community, they said they want to make sure those who heard their stories and data Wednesday will digest it and enact change.

“The simple truth is this: We just want to live. Is that so much to ask?” Wolf said.

According to Rep. Maloney, this is one of the last hearings the 117th Congress will conduct before its term ends in January.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.