Pulse Shooting Updates

[Content Note: Homophobia; eliminationism; guns; terrorism. Video may autoplay at first link.]

As victims of the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando are identified, the Orlando Sentinel is sharing their names and images and stories of who they were.

One of the many heartbreaking stories about the people who were murdered is that of Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, Christopher Leinonen, 32, known as Drew. Both killed in the shooting, they had planned to be married, and instead they will be buried together.

To support the surviving victims, you can contribute to this GoFundMe, which is being managed by Equality Florida, who is being wonderfully transparent about how the funds will be distributed.

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Late yesterday, information began to emerge that the Pulse gunman, Omar Mateen, may have done more than just scope out the club. Some of the patrons and employees recall him as a regular. He also reportedly used a gay dating app, and had asked out a former classmate at the police academy.

If these recollections are accurate, and I have no reason to think they aren't, then it does not, as a number of people have already begun to argue, make cultural homophobia less a culprit. If anything, it makes cultural homophobia an accomplice.

That this heinous massacre may have been an act of extreme self-hatred turned outward does not make it a different horror. It's just a different dimension to the same horror.

Consider what it means that there's a distinct possibility Mateen may have conceived the Islamic State "lone wolf" claim as a cover, because he preferred to be known as a terrorist to being known as queer.

That does not absolve homophobic bigots who disgorge the hatred that Mateen apparently internalized. It indicts them even more harshly.

Mateen's father, Seddique Mir Mateen, "emphatically told The Post Monday that his son was not gay." He asked: "If he was gay, why would he do something like this?"

Well, maybe it had something to do with being the son of a man who says things like: "God will punish those involved in homosexuality."

And maybe it had something to do with being raised in a culture where members of the LGBTx community are routinely demonized, by political leaders and propose anti-LGBTx legislation, and religious leaders who advocate for social exclusion, and sports heroes who use homophobic epithets and give transparently disingenuous apologies, and bosses who say shitty things and pass them over for promotions, and coworkers, and neighbors, and strangers, and family, and people meant to be friends.

Maybe that's why someone who was attracted to people of the same sex might do something like this. Because he spent a lifetime hearing that he was shit for being who he was, and he exploded in a rage, directed at the people who were living the life he didn't have the wherewithal to live himself.

That is not, to be abundantly clear, an excuse for killing or injuring 100 people. There is no excuse for what he did. It is merely one possibility that may be part of a complex explanation.

And we need to talk about it because, of all the things that led him to make this unfathomable decision, it's the one part in which the rest of us play a role. It's the one thing over which we have control. We have control over what we communicate about how LGBTx people are valued by their nation.

We're all accountable for the things we say. And for the things we haven't said, in moments when we could have spoken up safely, but didn't.

And that matters, even if it wouldn't have made any damn difference to this guy, who lacked whatever it is that doesn't stop millions of other marginalized, oppressed, bullied, and abused people from finding a way to survive without hurting other people. Without even contemplating killing other people because of their own pain, no matter how immense.

Because no one deserves to feel less than. Not because they might hurt other people, but because the fact that it hurts them is enough.

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