Two nights ago I attended the Boston Dyke March, an annual Pride event with no corporate sponsors that maintains the political origins of Pride. Yesterday, I attended the major Pride parade here in Boston, with its attendant concerns about pinkwashing exploitive corporations and allowing them to profit off of our identities, but an event that also marks the progress we have made in terms of mainstream acceptance of LGBTQ identities.
This morning, I woke up to the news that at least 50 people had been murdered at a Latin night celebration at a gay bar in Orlando by a man who was “angered” by the sight of two men kissing. It seems very clear that this attack was motivated by hatred.
When I woke up this morning and started checking social media, I found the trending hashtag #OrlandoMassacre. When I looked under it to see what had happened, before I found any media reports, I found tweets saying things like “Liberals: you can have gay rights or ‘refugees welcome’ but clearly not both.”
There is a widespread reaction blaming this shooting on Islam. The man who tweeted that quotation ignored the fact that the shooter was born in the U.S., and that his immigrant parents have disavowed his action. It erases the existence of LGBTQ Muslims. It ignores the fact that homophobia is alive and well not only in radical Islamist circles, but also among right-wing Christians, neo-Nazis, and a host of other hate groups and hate-filled individuals from an array of religious and ethnic backgrounds. It is not the sole provenance of any one group, any more than acceptance and compassion are. Indeed, today LA police arrested a man named James Howell from Indiana who was armed with guns and explosives and stated that he intended to harm those celebrating Pride in LA. So far no indications that he was Muslim.
This backlash against Islam ignores the fact that our society tolerates an incredible level of violence against American citizens, residents, and visitors, one that is unheard of in any other major Western country in the name of gun rights. It ignores the fact that our society tolerates hate speech and violent rhetoric against marginalized groups: the LGBTQ community, people of color, and women under the pretence that such hate is an integral part of some one else’s religious practice. It ignores the fact that gay and trans panic defenses can still be used across the country to defend violence against the LGBTQ. That American Christian pastors have been integral in advocating for laws like the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, pushing for the implementation of state violence against the queer community internationally, while domestically they level baseless accusations of sexual predation against trans people and fight to curtail their rights and undermine their very existence. And of course, that a campaign built upon the scapegoating of minorities for all the ills of our country has launched Donald Drumpf into place as the Republican nominee for president, after decades of dog whistle tactics on the right have helped build a base for him.
A GoFundMe page has been launched to support the victims of the Pulse shooting:
OneBlood has information on donating blood in the Orlando area: https://www.oneblood.org/
Everytown supports efforts to enact gun regulations to help end gun violence in America http://everytown.org/
If, like me, you are in Boston, there will be a vigil outside City Hall tomorrow, Monday the 13th at 6 pm. http://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2016/06/12/boston-host-vigil-orlando-shooting-victims-outside-city-hall?s_campaign=bcom%3Asocialflow%3Afacebook