A quick rundown of some questions people might have in the aftermath of what happened at the Pulse Club in Orlando, but don’t want to ask for fear of muddying the waters or causing more harm. I’ll likely miss some, but I’ll do my best.
Was this attack to do with Mateen being Muslim?
His ex-wife has publicly stated that he had violent tendencies – he routinely beat her over things as petty as dirty laundry – and that it wasn’t couched in his religion. His father and colleagues have said he had become much more vocal in recent months about his homophobia and transphobia after he saw two men kissing in the street. This was a hate-crime against LGBTQIA+ folx, not a religion-based crime.
There are many media outfits and people on the Christian Right using the fact that Mateen is of Muslim heritage to deflect from the fact it is their constant support of anti-LGBTQIA+ Bills, institutionalised homophobia and transphobica, ardent support of gun ownership and refusal to acknowledge that human lives are more valuable than their right to carry a gun that has lead to this horrific event being able to occur.
Wasn’t this just an attack against people on a night out?
Mateen specifically chose to target a queer venue on Latinx night during Pride month, when drag and trans performers were on the bill.
It can be hard, because of course people who are not queer are shocked and devastated about what happened, but queer folx have literally spent decades (Stonewall was almost 50 years ago) fighting to exist and being told we don’t deserve status as people, that it actually hurts more that it took 50 of our kin being murdered before we are seen as humans.
Mateen targeted not just marginalised queer folx, but Latinx folx. He was going for maximum damage, and I will state again, this is a hate-crime against LGBTQIA+ folx. Don’t erase us by derailing the conversation and insisting they were “just people on a night out”.
Is this an issue to do with gun control?
Mateen was able to acquire an AR-15 assault rifle, which the man who designed it categorically stated it was not intended for civilian use, in less than a week. This is in a country where folx from the community attacked couldn’t give blood to help their own, where folx routinely wait months for HRT treatment in the few states that allow gender confirmation treatment.
AMERICA HAS HAD 7 MASS SHOOTINGS SINCE LAST MONDAY.
This is absolutely an issue of gun control, but do not use that to detract from the hate-crime. Again, don’t erase that it was Latinx LGBTQIA+ folx that were targeted.
What can I do to help?
Don’t speak over queer voices. You don’t have to comment on everything. You don’t have to retweet everything. Do what you feel is best, but don’t erase queer voices on this issue.
Check in on your queer friends, but don’t crowd. Don’t demand they explain what happened to you, don’t demand to share in their grief. Be there with a hug if they want you, and step back if they ask you to. This is not a day to be a cookie-grabbing ally.
What happens next?
We don’t know.
We’ll, we probably do, because it’s America, and if kids getting shot dead at Sandy Hook didn’t make them change their gun policies, this sure as hell is going to. There will likely be talk for a few weeks of how to change policy to include LGBTQIA+ rights, and then the whole thing will be swept under a rug. Like I said above, America has had 7 mass shootings since last Monday. There will likely be some nice, cishet white people shot soon, and the media can turn their attention back there.
Be kind to your queer friends, make sure they know they are loved, and not just because 50 of our kin were shot dead in cold blood. It’s going to be a rough time for everyone.