I woke up this morning with a heavy heart. Yesterday’s news that a gunman entered a gay club, with the intention of murdering as many people as he possibly could is so tragic and horrible. And all so predictable.
American gun laws are an issue that needs to be addressed. I know this. People of far greater knowledge on American constitutional matters have discussed this ad nauseum before. So I have nothing to say on that subject.
But when nothing was done after the massacre of primary school children in Sandy Hook, that was the point where I tuned out of the depressingly relentless onslaught of reports about mass killings in the US. What’s the point in getting emotionally invested in these tales of horror, when nothing is going to get done about it? There’s a problem – uncontrolled access to murder weapons. If an obvious solution – making it far more difficult to obtain murder weapons – is not even going to be discussed then as sure as night follows day, and sure are Bert follows Ernie, these massacres will continue.
But this Orlando massacre seems different. And it seems like the perfect storm, by which people can wash their hands of responsibility.
The killer was muslim. Ka-ching!!! Instantly this is a bonus to the gun nuts. ‘Oh we don’t need to do anything about our gun laws. What we must do is to arm everyone as there is a muslim under every bed waiting to suicide bomb you.’ With depressing inevitability this was very soon spewing from the mouths of the gun-lobby-financed politicians and right wing press. The fact that the killer was an American citizen who strolled into an American gun shop, purchased weapons of mass destruction, without background checks being performed, becomes a triviality. Let’s use it as a reason to limit immigration. Everyone’s a winner. He’s a muslim. Therefore this is terrorism. If he was a christian then it wouldn’t be terrorism – it would be downgraded to a mass shooting.
Then you have the pathetic spectacle, of that sad little excuse for a human being, Marco Rubio – the Senator for Florida – sending his condolences to the victims. The victims, who that bigot Rubio believed were unworthy of equal civil rights to the rest of the population because they are gay. He sends his ‘prayers’ – prayers from his christian religion which hates gay people just as much as islam hates gay people. For sure, he pretends like his religion is not a religion of hatred. When of course it is.
It annoys me no end when people say ‘Homophobia is not a christian value’ or ‘Islam is the religion of peace.’ I ain’t buying that snake-oil. Read the words of the holy books. The bigotry and hatred is there – in black and white. If these are the words of ‘God’, then ‘God’ has serious anger management issues.
Rubio is calling for blood donations to help the survivors. Of course the survivors themselves would be barred from donating blood – because they are gay.
Marco Rubio, and all those politicians, and deranged religious leaders – muslim and christian – who promote homophobic persecution in the name of ‘religious freedom’ have created an environment where this massacre is inevitable.
Then you have the awkward fact that the victims were gay, and specifically targeted for that fact. The media seems to have a little problem with this. Initial reports described the Pulse nightclub as an ‘alternative lifestyle’ club – whatever the hell that is meant to mean – I presume that it means that ‘gays are other’.
Then you had the Sky News report where the presenter told a gay fellow reporter that the attacks were not necessarily homophobic, and he was accused by social media of histrionics for walking out. What did she mean – a mass murder in a gay club, targeted because the patrons are gay is not a homophobic attack?
Jesus would weep – if he existed.
To this morning’s headlines where the Daily Mail ran with a story ‘The EU wants to allow 1.5 million Turks into Britain.’ So a terrorist attack, claimed by ISIS and the largest mass shooting in American history is relegated to page 7. Well it involved gays. The Mail can’t decide who it dislikes more – gays or muslims. Better to just ignore it.
But none of the above are the reason for today’s heavy heart.
I think it’s a safe assumption to make that every gay person in the world – whether it be in Iran where you can get executed for being gay, or Ireland where everyone feels smug because they voted to allow gay people have equal civil rights – knows that an attack is a possibility.
The go-to insult in school remains ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ or ‘faggot’. Homophobia in religion needs to be defended because of religious liberty. Walking home late at night holding your same-sex partner’s hand is an act of foolishness. Time and time and time again you have to come out, as it’s a straight world, for straight people. And if you are brave enough, you tough it out and find your own space in that straight world.
And straight people seem to assume that now you can get married that everything is wonderful, and that ‘society has evolved.’ That the fight is over. That being gay is no longer a social marker, when of course it still is.
But you always have a sanctuary – the gay bar. The bar that you walked by twenty times, at the age of twenty before plucking up the courage to go through that door. To be greeted by the only people who have walked in your shoes. The music, the men, the magic, the love.
Oh it’s not perfect – there are jealousies and politics and drama and betrayal – but it’s a place you are safe from the low level threat of unexpected violence, an unasked for fist in the face as you walk down the street, the unwelcome slap across the head by some straight guy calling you ‘flikker’ (faggot) as you walk alone down the Leidsesstraat in Amsterdam, on a Saturday afternoon, a place to meet your friends and be as loud and carefree and camp as you like, where you absolutely will be judged – but for your wardrobe rather than for your person.
So for Pulse to be attacked like that, it’s doubly awful. Awful for the needless loss of life. And awful because that safe space – the gay bar – has been breached by the hatred of the outside world.
And it hurts – regardless of how inevitable it may have been.