50 people were killed in an Orlando, FL nightclub over the weekend. Pulse, a well known gay club in the area was the target of a mass shooting carried out by 29-year-old Omar Mateen. While 53 more people remain hospitalized, and in critical condition, Americans have found themselves in a peculiar position-trying to figure out where to place the blame.
While many Americans find themselves blaming ISIS for every mass shooting carried out by someone of the Muslim faith, others of us don’t think it’s that simple. Dylann Roof’s massacre of 9 innocent church goers in Charleston, South Carolina was called an “attack on religion” by so many. But others of us knew the truth. We knew that Roof was motivated by his unyielding hatred for Black people, and that alone. We called it what it was-a horrific, racist, terrorist act. Well, most Black people did, anyway. If you recall, some folk had trouble grasping that concept.
And now, we find ourselves in the same place. Some of us just aren’t willing to admit that Mateen’s actions were caused by his severe (and well documented) homophobia. We want ISIS to be to blame (and it could be partly to blame). We want gun laws to be to blame (I believe they are partly to blame, as well). We want so badly for this massacre to be the fault of something else, someone else-anything and anyone but us. Unfortunately, in America and all across the globe, many of us have cultivated and encouraged in our homes, the kind of homophobia that led to this brutal attack. Yet, now that the largest mass shooting in American history has taken place, somehow, we’re all feigning surprise.
Every day, members of the LGBTQ community are targets of unfair laws, discrimination, hate speech, etc., yet when something as horrific as the Orlando shooting takes place, we are somehow shocked that these people are targets of violence.
My heart and prayers are with the LBGT community. This atrocity would not go unanswered under President Trump I promise!! #PrayingForOrlando
— Stacey Dash (@REALStaceyDash) June 12, 2016
But you said trans people should pee in bushes. I'm befuddled. https://t.co/MUUhE7SR1a
— @KarmaJonez (@KarmaJonez) June 13, 2016
Mateen’s father, Seddique Marteen admits that his son became very angry after seeing two men kiss in public. He attributes Omar’s decision to target a gay nightclub to that incident. Former co-workers of Mateen also reported to various news outlets that he had been overtly homophobic and racist, one of them even claiming to have quit their job because Mateen had become unbearable to work with.
And so here we are. Why is it so hard for us to call a “thing” and “thing?” Why can’t we accept that Mateen’s actions were driven by a deep held belief and hatred for the LGBTQ community? My guess is because it hits too close to home. It’s much easier to connect this shooting to ISIS, Islam, or lax gun laws, than to ideologies that we are taught in our own churches, by our own parents, and adhere to in our own homes. It’s much easier to only talk about one aspect of the incident, (his alleged ties to ISIS), than to acknowledge that intolerance and hate crimes are things that are common practice for us here, in America.
Politicians in this country work very hard every day to make sure members of the LGBTQ community don’t have the same rights as heterosexual people. We’ve created, and accepted a climate that allows for hate speech, bullying and violence toward the LGBTQ community that often goes without consequence. We’ve done the same in our homes. In our Facebook posts. In our tweets. In conversations at the bar. We’ve demonized members of the LGBTQ community, and we have allowed them to be demeaned, under the guise of public safety.
But while we’ve spent all of our time warning the public about the terrors of trans people, our LGBTQ brothers and sisters have been consistently harmed and abused by heterosexual folk.
You're scared to be in a bathroom with us?
We're scared to be anywhere with you.
— (((Rhea Butcher))) (@RheaButcher) June 12, 2016
I’m worried about the larger pride celebrations this month.
— Xavier D'Leau (@XavierDLeau) June 12, 2016
"There are precincts of American politics filled with rhetoric against our community, our rights, our very being."
— Gabe Ortíz (@TUSK81) June 13, 2016
if you haven't spent your life being targeted by religious leaders, GOP politicians & homophobes, you don't get it. But, we sure as fuck do
— Joe Sudbay (@JoeSudbay) June 13, 2016
I’ve heard many people defend their anti-LGBTQ stances by saying that they simply don’t agree with the “lifestyle.” And that’s OK, I guess. But what I think they fail to realize is that words matter. Harmful opinions and points of view matter-ESPECIALLY when they so often translate into actions.
So no, I don’t think that we as a country get to separate ourselves from what happened in Orlando over the weekend. We perpetuate that kind of ideology, that kind of behavior every single day. When we use hateful slurs, when we attempt to deny someone their own humanity, when we don’t speak up against bullying, acts of violence, or anti-LGBTQ legislation, we are to blame too. We are culpable.
Are we all mass murderers? Of course not. But do some of us have and perpetuate the same views that Omar Mateen had? Absolutely, yes. So what happens when people like Omar are taught to hate people because of their sexuality? What happens when people like Omar are taught to believe that gay people should be punished? Well, we’ve seen it time and time again. Nothing good. These people were murdered in what was supposed to be a safe space. They were attacked in one of the only places they felt free to be themselves.
For most of the 20th century, it wasn’t even legal for gay bars to have WINDOWS facing the street. You wanted us to hide and we obliged.
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) June 13, 2016
If you can't wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you've probably never been afraid to hold someone's hand in public.
— Jeramey Kraatz (@jerameykraatz) June 12, 2016
Literally lol at anyone thinking they can scare our community. We already had to be gay teenagers. Nothing is scarier than that.
— Chris Schleicher (@cschleichsrun) June 13, 2016
@MichellCClark the wages of sin is death. Just less Gays people don't have to worry about being ANNOYING by pushing their agenda on others.
— Genius Status (@A1Day15) June 12, 2016
So as long as we continue to tell ourselves and each other that it is OK to treat someone poorly, to mistreat people because they are different, then these acts of bigotry will continue.
Let us hope that we can finally see how much of a threat straight people are to the LGBTQ community. And let us pray that we won’t pass these ideologies on to our children.
By the way, thanks for this Kid Cudi
IF YOU ARE AN INSECURE HOMOPHOBE AND HAVE A ISSUE WITH GAYS AND EQUALITY, UNFOLLOW ME NOW. THANK YOU
— The Chosen One (@KidCudi) June 12, 2016
The Hip Hop community is the least outspoken about gay rights and Ima go out my way to change that.
— The Chosen One (@KidCudi) June 12, 2016
Watch this important video below