In the Wake of the Mass Shooting at Pulse Nightclub Orlando

My heart is certainly heavy this afternoon, in the wake of the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub, in Orlando, Florida, where fifty-three people were killed and another fifty-three seriously wounded, in the early morning hours.

In what marks the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, authorities continue to investigate the motives and details of the Fort Pierce man’s attack on the LGBT community.

Because of the scale of the crime, a State of Emergency has been declared in Florida.

Let’s not let the media distract us from what is going on in our country. And let’s not allow the rabid, neo-conservative trend toward Islamaphobia blind us to the fact that this was NOT an Islamic attack. It was a hate crime.

Was the murderer Muslim? Yes. From what I understand. Might he have been under investigation for his connections to fundamentalist terrorist cells? Perhaps. I don’t know.

But he was not faithful to the peaceful tenets of the Islamic faith, or he would not have murdered fifty innocent people, and injured over fifty others. And let’s remember, there has been no claim of responsibility for the attack on jihadi forums.

Let’s not forget that the religions of the shooters in other mass murders in recent history were not made the issue. Seung-Hui Cho was not called a “Christian terrorist”, when he murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech.

Let us not turn this into what it was not. This was not an “Islamic attack on Uh-murca.”

It was an act of homophobic violence. It was an attack on the LGBTQ community… not on America.

There is still much to be vigilant about… including political vigilance. Let’s not allow this awful tragedy to distract us from that responsibility. Let’s not allow our grief to distract us from the atrocities being committed by government, including Obama signing into law a bill that provides sweeping protections for the murderous Monsanto, or the manipulation of elections by career criminal, Hillary Clinton, or the dangerous prospect of having a rabid animal and opportunist like Trump in office.

And as an openly gay man, I encourage LGBTQ persons and their allies, to remind one another that the very reason there are “parades” during June’s LGBT Pride events, in honour of the Stonewall Riots, 47 years ago, is to continue to fight for an end to the violence, oppression and bigotry we face because of our sexual orientation. The reason there is no “straight pride parade” is simple… there is no need for one.

This was an attack on our community. It was an attack of hatred by a young man who was poisoned by the fundamentalist intolerance of many so-called “religions” in this country. It was an attack of hatred inspired by people who are more worried about who is pissing next to them in the public restroom than they are about getting real justice for rape survivors. It was an attack of hatred that has been quietly accepted in states that have refused to comply with LGBT marriage equality laws… where trans people have been murdered for simply being who they are… where Matthew Shepard’s murder was not deemed worthy of local news broadcasts in a number of television markets.

And while the Pride Events continue this month, most notably this weekend, in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, I pray we all stop for a moment and remember that we have made great strides toward a better future, but there is still SO much work to be done.

Orlando was my home for many years as a gay teen, young adult and for a few years later, when I served as the Director of AIDS Services for the Deaf, at CENTAUR. My heart is with the LGBT community there, and with my sisters and brothers around the world. While my heart grieves the loss of three friends, who were murdered in the Orlando attack, every life lost was a loss for my community and our world.