After an emotional session with my spiritual community last night I decided that I was ready to write this post. I read some stories so I would feel closer to my own feelings about what happened at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida in the early hours of Sunday June 12th. I feel that it is my responsibility as a voice in our community to speak out.
I don’t need to speak about homophobia and gun violence. There are more than enough people out there doing that. Instead I want to speak out against hate.
It is easy, perhaps even comforting, for us to view Omar Mateen (the perpetrator of this hideous crime) in simple one-dimensional terms. To see him as a demented jihadist, an Islamic State affiliated, homophobic maniac. It isn’t a big stretch with so many images of gay men hooded and thrown off buildings to be stoned to death once they land. But the truth is simply not that simple.
Mateen was American. He was a domestic abuser. He may even have been a self-hating gay, or bisexual, man. We will never fully understand his motivations regardless of what he claimed just before the shootings. It ’s frightening to consider that there are many extremists, of many religious persuasions, who would applaud this violence because it was committed against our community.
We are entering a dangerous moment as our grieving ends and our fear and anger rise. Will this terrible event leave us more compassionate and human? I hope so.
We must not allow our pain to turn to hate. We, as a community so familiar with oppression, must not become oppressors. It’s hard not to feel hate. It’s so much easier to find a scape goat. But doesn’t the anti-Muslim rhetoric sound like “It’s the gays destroying our society. Put them all on an island so they can’t recruit our children.”
The very people who would convince you that rampant Islamophobia is an appropriate response have always been our enemies. Don’t let your pain, your anger, your need for a solution, help them.
There is more violence and murder perpetrated against LGBTQ people around the world than any other group. We know better than anyone what it means to be marginalized for political expediency. We have suffered as “the other” throughout our history. Let’s show the world what we’ve learned about tolerance, about compassion, about what it means to be human.
My heart goes out to all the victims of Orlando and their loved ones. It goes out to every person who knew Mateen and wonders if they could have prevented the massacre. It even goes out to those among his circle who think he was right. Such twisted minds must endure daily agony just to exist.
As much as my heart aches for our community and this tragic reminder of how fragile it is, it also aches the peace-loving, compassionate, Muslims everywhere. They are being painted with the same strokes as the terribly disturbed, misguided, man, who lost his humanity and caused so much suffering. No-one deserves to be compared to him without good reason.