The events that transpired in Orlando over the weekend have been heartbreaking.
The loss and pointless destruction of 49 lives at the hands of a madman is something that we are going to have struggle with globally, for a long time.
Lest we forget the fact that 49 people have died. As information becomes public, it is clear that among them are men and women who identified as LGBTQI, as well as those who we might safely conclude are LGBT allies/friendly.
Why the distinction? Because, in harming any sector of a community, you harm the parts that are adjacent to it. Most, but not all, people who go to gay clubs identify as being LGBTQI. Us queers have straight friends too, you know.
This is not the first mass shooting that has taken place.
Not this year, not ever. And judging by recent events, it won’t be the last.
What happened in Orlando is as much about the actions of a lone madman as it is about our collective attitude towards arms, minorities and our general intolerance.
This is the first mass shooting that has taken place in a gay club. And I think it is too convenient to overlook this fact, to simplify this attack as being one of Islam versus western countries, as many people and parts of the press are currently doing.
As information continues to come to light, it’s becoming clearer that the shooter had issues with the gay community. There are reports floating around that he used gay dating apps, or that he’d previously been to Pulse, but we can’t really draw any conclusions from this at this point. Whether the alleged use of the apps and visits to Pulse played a part in his reconnaissance or because he was struggling with his sexuality (as some of the gay press are beginning to point out) is all conjecture.
What shouldn’t be open to speculation is that this was a hate crime.
Let me repeat that. It was a hate crime, and one targeted at the GLBTQI community. Had the shooter opened fire in a church, or a mosque, or a synagogue, we would have universally interpreted the event as being a religiously motivated hate crime. Regardless of where an attack takes place, there is a flow on effect: in attacking any segment of a community, you attack the community at large.
But for those who want to deny that this was primarily an attack on the queer community, I would encourage you to reflect on what you’re trying to achieve by refusing to acknowledge this.
Perhaps it's just a case of you clinging to where you get your news from. Those media outlets that conveniently skewer things to their own views.
With a lack of verifiable information, some outlets went straight to the usual reasoning, and the usual suspects piped up with their usual rhetoric.
As information comes to light, it's becoming clearer that these were the actions of a lone wolf, who, demonstrated violence in the past, and who more than possibly had problems with mental illness. Evidence is pointing to yet another person in our society who was troubled and who, rather than seek help, sought vengeance.
Yes, Daesh have applauded his actions, but without any substantial evidence to link their role in the event, will those who insist this was an act of Radical Islam back track at all to acknowledge that this was, and remains a hate crime against the LGBT community? No, they won't because it doesn't fit their narrative.
And in the meantime, 49 people are no longer with us, and a large portion of our society refuses to acknowledge this loss as being anything other than a cultural-religious affront.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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