By D’Anne Witkowski
No one on an FBI watch list should be able to easily buy a gun. No one should be allowed to buy a gun designed for the military to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. If you want to hold an AR-15 or something like it, join the fucking Army. I know that gun nuts disagree. But I don’t have the patience or the time to argue with people who think guns are more important than human lives.
America is the only country where mass shootings happen on a regular basis. We need gun control, damn it. I don’t want to hear another politician offer prayers for Orlando unless that prayer is, “Dear God, please guide my hand as I sign this gun control legislation.”
Then again, if a pile of dead six-year-olds wasn’t enough to move the needle on gun control, then a pile of gays doesn’t stand a chance.
Hearing “prayers” from people like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott made me sick to my stomach. These are people who demonized LGBT people and families for political gain. Their prayers don’t mean shit, thanks.
Ah, but there will be plenty of time to call them out. Right now the main villain in this plot is Omar Mateen, the man who mowed down nearly 100 people, killing 49 of them (as of this writing) at Pulse in Orlando. A gay club.
We know that he was racist and homophobic. We know that he beat up his first wife. We know that he worked as a security guard. We know he was on the FBI’s radar. We know that he bought his murder weapons easy peasy.
Was he a terrorist? Well, undoubtably, yes. But was he specifically a “radical Islamic terrorist” (as if that somehow explains or makes more comprehensible the carnage he wrought)? It’s been reported that he called 911 to declare his allegiance with ISIS during the massacre.
Was he gay? There are plenty of reports he was a regular at Pulse. That he’d sometimes get so drunk he had to be thrown out. That he messaged men on Grindr. That he was creepy. That he threatened men at Pulse with a knife once. How much is true at this stage is unknown. Since news outlets compete to get the latest piece of info out first there’s often a lack of fact-checking. Eventually a more cohesive narrative will form. And no doubt conspiracy theorists will use any and all inconsistencies and errors as proof that this never happened, that this is just an event fabricated by the government so they can take away our guns, just like they have with Sandy Hook.
And people will say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if he was gay or not” just as they’ll say, “It doesn’t matter that the club was gay or not.” And these people will by and large not be gay. Because of course it matters. This is not only the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, but it is also the largest mass killing of LGBT people in this country (and it’s not the first. Google “Upstairs Lounge arson attack 1973”).
This mass murder can’t be easily summed up or explained. But no doubt the toxic culture of masculinity and gun fetishism we cultivate in this country and the long history of vilifying LGBT people helped pave the way for this to happen.
And it’s a stark reminder that despite all of the gains that LGBT people have made, there is so much work left to do. Just because we can legally get married now doesn’t mean that our lives are as safe or as valued as our hetero friends and neighbors.
Go out and hug each other. Be fierce, be proud, be woke.