The terror attack in Orlando last week is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of our country. It is cause for mourning, melancholy, and policy change; however, some extremist Christians on the right are rejoicing about the occasion quoting Leviticus and praising Omar as a martyr.
Omar Mateen single handedly killed and/or injured more than 100 people at the popular Orlando gay club, Pulse. Mateen, an American citizen, was born in New York and of Islamic faith; however, his apparent pledge to ISIS is not the central point to this article. Mateen himself was homophobic. Mateen was a known ISIS sympathizer and was recognized by the FBI, and it was totally legal for him to purchase firearms.
At this point, a lot of you guys may be wondering why I keep labeling the shooting as a terror attack and the answer is simple. Terrorism by definition is the use of fear and violence to further an agenda, especially a political agenda. Homophobia is definitely a political issue as it has led to many hardships within the LGBT+ community.
Since Monday, I've been seeing countless posts about the terror attack and while we can all agree that is was one of the saddest days in America, you don't really know the repercussions of it unless you identify as some type queer.
There I was, sitting on my grandma's couch in Grayling, MI. It was 9:21 a.m., Sunday, June 12, 2016 and it was brisk outside. I heard the news of the terror attack and I was drawn in. I feel like as an American I'm used to hearing of mass shootings, death, and discrimination; however, this time was different. I felt personally affected by this particular attack. I am gay. I am proud of who I am. Mateen targeted Pulse directly because it was a gay bar. He was homophobic, and so are a lot of people in America. This is a scary thought.
But to me, I don't think that homophobia makes sense. LGBT+ people occupy positions that probably make your life go round. We cater, plan and organize your weddings. We do your make up. We police your communities. We teach your children. We give you life saving surgeries and medicine. We do your taxes. We coach your children. We make your food and coffee. We sell you goods. We grow your food. We log your timber. We occupy every field and every aspect of your life whether you wish to recognize it or not. The worst part is that most of us have to carry out our jobs incognito since it is still totally acceptable to fire us for being who we are in most states.
The underlying elephant is that even if Mateen pledged his allegiance to ISIS at the very end, this was a blatant hate crime. He targeted Pulse due to the fact that he was a closeted homosexual. Several survivors have admitted to being advanced on by Mateen, and that his internalized homophobia for not being able to accept himself was the real reason behind his act of hate. Orlando was hatred. Orlando was homophobia. Orlando was internalized homophobia built up by the capitalist patriarchal society, and in the end patriarchy is the real motive behind his actions. The patriarchy tells men to be violently masculine. It tells men to repel gays. It tells men they have to be macho to be worthwhile. Orlando is a teaching point that we need reform.
I will end with a moving Facebook post that has been circulating and doesn't have a clear original source:
"You weren't the gunman, but you didn't want to see gay people kissing in public. You weren't the gunman, but you don't like gay characters on TV. You weren't the gunman, but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.
You weren't the gunman, but you were upset when gay people gained the right to marry. You weren't the gunman, but you use slurs for gay people. You weren't the gunman, but you would vote against legal protections for gay people.
You weren't the gunman, but you were the culture that built him. You weren't the gunman, but you were the bullets in his gun."