Queer and There

There are some people you wish would just stay out of the news, but unfortunately our local nightmare is far from over. In December, national LGBTQ news outlet Pink News published an article about our own hometown homophobe Gordon Klingenschmitt.

This former Colorado House Rep, failed Colorado Springs City Council candidate and former U.S. Navy military chaplain, who was court-martialed in 2006 for wearing his uniform to a political protest, is unfortunately based here in Colorado Springs, and has spread his particular brand of unhinged hatred throughout the community for years.

This time, he got national attention thanks to a newsletter he sent out to followers of his evangelical website/broadcast: The Pray In Jesus Name Project. The rambling, incoherent newsletter, chock-full of false and inflammatory dog whistles for the religious right, was titled: “Biden to Transgenderize Military (and punish Christian Troops).”

He claimed that good, female, Christian soldiers (spelled “solders”) and students would be forced to shower with men (inaccurate) “within hours of Biden’s inauguration.” (Impossible.) That was just the first line, if you can believe it. It went on like that for untold paragraphs, occasionally promoting petitions to stop President-elect Joe Biden from showing trans people basic respect.

Reading this rant as a gender-nonconforming lesbian was infuriating and exhausting, sure, but this isn’t anything new for Klingenschmitt, who has built his career on stoking the fire of queer fear in his followers.

Through the Pray in Jesus Name Project, he has lied about the purpose and potential effects of The Equality Act (which Biden supports), accused the Boy Scouts and Sesame Street of recruiting children into the gay lifestyle, and has said such hateful, hurtful things about transgender people that to repeat them here would be an injustice.

Many of his more recent crusades have focused on the military, thanks in part to lame duck President Trump’s 2017 ban on transgender people in the military, which has faced numerous challenges in the courts and Congress, and won’t hold up under the Biden administration.

He tends to repeat many of the same talking points that other far-right Republicans and anti-trans advocates like to spew, but Klingenschmitt’s brand of bigotry includes phrases like this:

“Christian troops who object to sharing co-ed showers and bunks with opposite gender anatomy will be vilified as ‘discriminators’ and punished, demoted, discharged or court-martialed. Mark my words. The devil wants an atheist army for the Antichrist, soon.”

Wowza.

Klingenschmitt ran for Colorado Springs City Council in 2019, and failed to secure the Republican nomination for El Paso County Commissioner in 2020. He keeps trying to gain a political foothold here after his brief stint in the Colorado House of Representatives (2015-17), and frankly his consistent defeat brings me a bit of hope.

The kind of far-right views he espouses don’t represent — or rather, shouldn’t represent — those of other veterans, other Christians, other Republicans. Yet he consistently attempts to win over all these demographics by appealing to their greatest fear: That America is being overrun by socialists, atheists, transgender people and advocates for racial justice.

God, I wish!

If establishment Democrats were half as progressive as folks like Klingenschmitt make them out  to be, many of us would feel better checking boxes next to “D” on our ballots.

As it is, white America, straight America, cisgender America is marching on just fine, and even if advocates for equality get their wish, it will not amount to “transgenderizing” our military or “recruiting” the nation’s children. 

It’s amazing how all it takes is to ask for a seat at the table for the far-right to assume we’re trying to chop the table into firewood and burn it down.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m tired of the shame I feel when folks like Klingenschmitt hit national news (even niche outlets like Pink News). I wish his type didn’t represent our city on the national stage, but here we are.

Klingenschmitt: You are an embarrassment. 

Associate Editor

Alissa Smith is the associate editor of the Colorado Springs Indy, and has lived in Colorado Springs since 1996. She has coordinated listings, curated featured events, herded cats, and both edited and contributed to Queer & There.