This moving post by an LGBT activist carries an important message that all Americans need to hear as we grapple with the shock and pain of this morning’s horrifying mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
It is becoming increasing clear that this was not an act of Islamic terrorism. While Omar Mateen was technically a Muslim, he was born in the United States. Both his wife and his parents say that he showed no signs of radicalization, but he was mentally unstable and a domestic abuser and a possible terror suspect. Democrats have introduced legislation to specifically restrict gun sales to all three categories. NRA-bought Republicans have defeated all three.
The Islamic State did not claim responsibility for the attack until CNN and FOX News and every other fear-mongering mainstream media site began shouting that the man had “sworn allegiance” Daesh caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They had no idea who this man was or what his deal was, and the call to 911 in which he proclaimed his allegiance to the Islamic State took place while he was committing mass murder. It was a grab for attention, nothing more.
But most important are these words of tolerance and the importance of fighting against marginalization and discrimination in all forms, by Facebook user Jacob Tobia:
It does not matter if the Orlando shooter was Muslim
His identity does not justify islamophobia
Our fear does not justify islamophobia
Our trauma does not justify islamophobia
Our sadness does not justify islamophobia
Our heartbreak does not justify islamophobia
Today, it is our obligation as a queer community to remember that islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia work together.
Today, it is our obligation as queer people to proclaim that the same forces that marginalize queer people in the United States are used to marginalize Muslims.
Today, we need to remember that joy, love, and celebration are still possible; that queer and allied Muslims are an integral part of the queer community.
Today, we must stand together against the wave of prejudice, hatred, and violence sweeping our country.
Last night, just three hours before the attack began, I stopped at the bodega in my neighborhood for some ice cream. The Muslim couple who run the bodega were sitting behind the counter: the husband speaks English, and his wife is still learning. After I made my purchase, the husband translated on behalf of his wife:
“What lipstick are you wearing?” he asked
“It’s from Sephora, it’s my favorite!” I responded
His wife said something to him in Arabic, the same language that my grandparents spoke when they immigrated to the United States from Syria in the 1950s, the language that I do not speak but wish I could.
He turned to me: “She says that she likes your lipstick. She thinks that you look beautiful!”
Today, we mourn together.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.