Distraught individuals comfort each other at the Orlando Police Department headquarters after the United States’ worst gun massacre in history at a gay nightclub early this morning in Orlando, Florida. Because most of the victims were gay men, whose lives are expendable, this latest gun massacre won’t be in the national discussion for very long, though, and this latest American massacre demonstrates that although same-sex couples’ constitutional right to marry finally was recognized a year ago this month, plenty of ignorance surrounding and hatred toward non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals remains.
What a quandary for American wingnuts and other homophobes! The largest slaughter of innocent Americans on American soil since 9/11 — perpetrated by a Muslim man, of course* — must be condemned, but at the same time, most if not all of the Muslim’s victims were queers!
Seriously — this is a conundrum, since most American haters of Muslims hate non-heterosexual and non-gender-conforming individuals, too; homophobia is something that fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews all have in common.
I say this with confidence: Even though early this morning we saw the largest shooting massacre in American history (50 fatalities [including the gunman] at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida), we won’t talk about this gun massacre for nearly as long as we talked about the last gun massacre, the one in San Bernardino, California, in which 14 people were slaughtered by a Muslim man and his Muslim wife in December.**
And that’s because heterosexual (and gender-conforming) lives still are valued much more than are non-heterosexual (and non-gender-conforming) lives in the United States of America.
I’m confident that just as millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die of AIDS, millions of Americans (most of them self-identified “Christians”) believe that fags deserved to die in Orlando this morning. (These individuals of course would take issue with my use of the word “innocent” in the first paragraph.)
You know, though, even though I’m a gay man, I don’t feel a bunch of hatred toward the perpetrator, 29-year-old Omar Mateen, who was the son of immigrants from Afghanistan and a U.S. citizen (and who was shot dead by police after he’d committed his carnage).
Nor do I feel a generalized hatred toward Muslims, although I believe that their belief system, along with Christians’ and Jews’, is bullshit (with their “God” essentially being a Santa Claus figure on crack [He sees you when you’re sleeping/ He knows when you’re awake/ He knows if you’ve been bad or good/ So be good for goodness’ sake!]), and although I recognize that a relatively tiny percentage of them are capable of great evil (as is the case with all human beings).
I do, however, blame toxic, backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist and homophobic religion, with its hocus-pocus, bullshit beliefs, and I blame the fact that Omar Mateen was born and raised in a nation whose highest court not even a full year ago finally ruled that under the U.S. Constitution, non-heterosexual individuals have the same human and civil rights that heterosexuals do.
When it comes to massacres, it takes a village to make them happen, people.
We need to examine the village much more than we need to examine the perpetrators.*** They are the symptoms of the village that creates them.
*Actually, of course, it remains that case that a typical American is significantly more likely to be shot and killed in a mass shooting by a white person who considers himself to be a Christian than by a Muslim.
**The Los Angeles Times put out this graphic of past gun massacres in the United States:
Note that this latest gun massacre took a real leap in the body count from the previous record. The L.A. Times grimly keeps a growing, running roundup of gun massacres in the United States here.
***That said, I’m confident that Mateen was mentally ill (his ex-wife has said that he was) — you can’t massacre people unless you are mentally ill (and the mentally ill widely don’t get the help that they need in the United States) — spurred on by the ignorance and hatred within his environment (including, of course, the ignorance and hatred that routinely is spewed within religion in the name of “God”), and, of course, I have to wonder if he was battling with homosexual urges himself.
I mean, reportedly he went ballistic when he saw two men kissing in public in Miami recently.
Why? Why would that drive you to shoot up a gay nightclub, if you were heterosexual and comfortable with your heterosexuality?
It seems to me quite possible that the sick and twisted Mateen, by killing gay men who unabashedly were being who they are in public (at least in the nightclub), was trying to kill the homosexuality within himself.
Finally, I don’t wish to exclude lesbians from mention, but the official list of victims in the Orlando massacre that has been released thus far indicates that most of the victims were male and Latino. I don’t know if any lesbians were killed, too. I see one female name on the list, and I don’t know what her sexual orientation was, and of course not all of the males slaughtered there necessarily were gay, but, it being a gay nightclub, I’m guessing (safely, methinks) that most if not all of them were.