Homophobia, Hate and Hope for Change

Targeting a gay nightclub, the shooter behind America’s most fatal mass shooting is reported to have engaged with various platforms and interacted with several individuals of America’s queer community.
Omar Mateen has been identified by several as a frequenter of gay bars (including his crime-scene-to-be, Pulse, multiple times as early as three years before early Sunday’s shooting); a participant on non-hetero dating apps; and, an initiator of a gay date. The extent of his involvement within the LGBTQ+ community remains unclear, but several witnesses are coming forward since the Orlando massacre.
Mr. Seddique Mateen, the shooter’s father, has firmly denounced his son’s monstrous actions and notes complete shock and disgust in the atrocity. He did, however, note the younger Mateen’s anger upon witnessing two men kiss on the street in public just months ago.
As it remains vague, Mateen’s exact relationship with homosexuality and homophobia, there is some element of paradox rooted in deep hatred, at simplest, at the core of this most unfathomable horror.

Was Mateen gay? Was he trying to dive into the queer community to dissect and destroy it from the inside out?

Drowning in such speculations surrenders to the media’s consuming drool over details that don’t resurrect life or tackle the manifestations of hate (of large and small magnitude) that we can attempt to curb in the future.
As iterated many a time, Mateen’s state of mind, susceptibility toward inhumane radicalism, and accumulation of arms are not our problem: but seeds of homophobia compose a disease that plagues general intolerance, bigotry, and marginalization within the Muslim community.
The possibility that Mateen himself may have been gay only drives home the point about teaching acceptance and the absolute toxicity of preached make masculinity in Muslim communities. No blame on a specific congregation can be directly linked or substantiated, but there is nothing more potent than absorbing lectured and normalized impurity of, or phobia against, the self in religious settings that are supposed to serve as place of solace and haven; such internalization clearly can seamlessly seed and fluently flourish into a most bitter brokenness of self-hate – and in this particular extreme case, violence.
Just like women can feel that other women, too, play by patriarchal oppression and act in such a manner that perpetuates male domination, we are also witnessing a point where instilled, instituted homophobia can drive someone who may be gay to also being homophobic. I use women as a point of reference, not as a distraction or derailment of discussion.

Obviously, (mass) murder is not the usual nor cannot be the natural progression of dealing with such circumstances. But even when layered with arms, inhumanity, and the excuse of violent radicals to back violent ideology – homophobia is still a toxic ingredient in the catastrophe, as well as one that must be explicitly stated and now addressed.

If all of this doesn’t prompt us to pause and reevaluate what we as communities spawn regarding rhetoric, alienation, and normalization, what will? What will it take?
And still, countless online threads of discussion featuring ground-level Muslim response following the shooting are continuing to dish stubborn attitudes adorned with an array of verses that all do the same thing that have led to this juncture of applauded disgust and normalized hate: the hate that incites violence, that still screams louder than the verses of love and acceptance, that blindly reinforces and verbally validates the homophobia rooted in fear and misunderstanding in the first place.
The response by Muslims communities in scale to the level of atrocity (again, the largest mass shooting in American modern history) is deplorable.
If all of this doesn’t prompt us to pause and reevaluate what we as communities spawn regarding rhetoric, alienation, and normalization, what will? What will it take?
I don’t want to find out.