August 18 through 20 was quite a weekend–a once in a century tropical storm hits Southern California concurrent with a pretty sizeable earthquake. Dishes rattled, people were shaken, streets flooded, mud slid and cars were stranded and people were rescued but despite it all–there was no loss of life tied directly to either the earthquake or the weather phenomenon.
While the nation had its eyes on the west coast, riveted by the dual actions of Mother Nature, an unnatural act of violence occurred here in the San Bernardino Mountains.
On Friday, August 18, 66-year-old Lauri Carleton was shot down at her place of business in Lake Arrowhead by a man who, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, first tore down the pride flag displayed outside her store and spewed homophobic rhetoric before murdering her in cold blood.
Carleton was a wife and mother of a blended family of nine, a business owner— with locations in both Los Angeles and Lake Arrowhead Village (Mag Pi)— and a longtime, committed supporter and ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
Carleton’s death shows that you don’t have to be gay to be targeted by rabid, extremist homophobes. We hope this was an isolated incident and it does not mean that people can no longer be a supporter or advocate, let alone a friend or relative of members of the LGBTQ+ community without having a target on their back.
Today’s anti-gay climate being nurtured by the far right is fueling a form of insanity that leads people like the suspect in the Lake Arrowhead murder to believe members of the LGBTQ+ community and those who support them are unworthy of life.
In late June, the Gay and Lesbian Association Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Anti Defamation League (ADL) released a first-of-its-kind report tracking extremist and non-extremist acts of harassment, vandalism and assault motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ hate. The report identifies more than 350 incidents of harassment, vandalism and assault
The report tracked more than 350 anti-LGBTQ threats and attacks over an eleven-month period beginning in June 2022.
These organizations believe the threats and attacks against members of the gay community coincide with the disturbing increase in anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation across the country—sadly, some of this is occurring here in the inland region. The most notable of course, are the anti LGBTQ+ sentiments clearly evident in the actions of school boards like the one in Temecula and others who are willingly exploiting the vulnerabilities of young people—many of whom are already struggling with their sexual identify and who are most vulnerable to suicide ideation—for heir own political agenda.
As the rhetoric continues to ratchet up against members of the LGBTQ+ community and violence against members of the LGBTQ+ community escalates along with it, we must all remember that to remain silent on this is to be complicit. Hate kills.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.