A deadly dispute over an LGBTQ+ Pride Flag in Cedar Glen, California, is just the latest attack in a landscape of rising anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism. On August 18, 2023, Travis Ikeguchi allegedly shot and killed Laura “Lauri” Ann Carleton right after Ikeguchi made anti-LGBTQ+ remarks about the rainbow flag outside of Carleton’s clothing store. Ikeguchi was later killed in a shootout with police.
An ADL Center on Extremism investigation into social media accounts that appear to belong to Ikeguchi shows that the alleged shooter promoted popular conspiracy theories demonizing the LGBTQ+ community, as well as other bigoted and conspiratorial beliefs.
Ikeguchi posted explicit anti-LGBTQ+ hate on his X (formerly Twitter) and Gab profiles, including reposting an image on July 7 from an account named “ItWasTheJews,” tagged “Faggot Hate,” showing a man with a gun and a sign that read, “Pedophile lives don’t matter.” He also repeatedly called for abolishing same-sex marriage and wrote on August 5, “Homosexuals still at any form [sic] should be illegal.”
Ikeguchi appears to have subscribed to a popular anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theory that baselessly claims that the LGBTQ+ community is “grooming” children or otherwise supports pedophilia (hence the use of “P” at the end of LGBTQP). His pinned X post on June 13 features an image of the Pride Flag on fire alongside the text, “What to do with the LGBTQP flag?”
Ikeguchi reposted a graphic on June 8 that read, “June is groomer awareness month, protect your children from perverts,” referencing June’s designation as LGBTQ+ Pride Month.
Ikeguchi also demonstrated a belief in the anti-LGBTQ+ “gender ideology” trope, an ambiguous, decades-old conspiracy theory that alleges that women- and LGBTQ-led movements are destroying traditional values. More recently, this term has been used by anti-LGBTQ+ bigots to refer to educational curricula containing LGBTQ+ topics, claiming that these lessons are somehow indoctrinating students or “turning kids gay.”
Similarly, Ikeguchi appeared to believe in a broader “LGBTQ+ Agenda” that aligns with many far-right conspiracy theories. In a Gab post on July 27, he wrote, “When will there come a time that we rise up take to the streets against voter fraud, LGBTQP agenda, drag queen shows, corrupt Biden government, inflation, and so forth and protest and revolt against them.”
Ikeguchi seemed to be a fan of prominent right-wing conspiracy theorists and amplifiers of anti-LGBTQ+ extremism. On May 16, Ikeguchi reposted a video from The Matt Walsh Show in which the host calls for a boycott of Target over their Pride merchandise line. He also shared a post on June 4 from Protect Texas Kids, an anti-LGBTQ+ activist group in Texas that frequently protests drag shows.
Other Hateful Ideologies
In addition to anti-LGBTQ+ hate, Ikeguchi exhibited sexist and racist views of women and a belief in race-based dating hierarchies. His Gab account was dedicated to sharing photos of Asian men with white women. In a July 13 post showing an Asian girl with a white man, he wrote, “This is the reason why I don’t date Asian women. Screw them.” Another post on August 7 read, “Most Japanese women don’t date white men, which is why they are the most loyal Asians.”
Ikeguchi also posted antisemitic and anti-Israel content online. He self-identified as anti-Israel in his Gab profile, and frequently shared videos claiming that Israel is full of “Zionist criminals” and “occupation terrorists” upholding an “apartheid state.” On July 26, Ikeguchi also posted about Zionists “preying on Asians” as part of a broader military campaign.
Ikeguchi frequently referenced freemasons, a popular target of conspiratorial thinkers, and referred to himself as a “conspiracy realist,” a term used by conspiracy theorists who want to deny the fact that they are, in fact, conspiracy theorists. He also appeared to buy into a range of far-right political conspiracy theories. On June 20, he reposted a video from James O’Keefe, formerly affiliated with Project Veritas, which claimed that the investment management firm BlackRock is secretly controlling the American government. Ikeguchi also shared a post on June 18 that the Ukrainian government was harvesting children for an elite cabal to make an elixir of youth known as “adrenochrome,” a prominent conspiracy theory among QAnon adherents.
This overlap in hateful ideologies is not uncommon. ADL and GLAAD’s recent report on anti-LGBTQ+ hate and extremism in the U.S. found that 35% of anti-LGBTQ+ incidents between June 2022 and April 2023 included antisemitic tropes and eight percent included racist tropes. For more on this trend, see ADL’s report on the crossover of conspiracy theories, anti-LGBTQ+ hate and antisemitism.