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7 things straight people aren’t understanding about Orlando

An American man bought two guns and, at the weekend, shot and killed 49 LGBT people, predominantly people of colour, and injured a further 53. The attack, at the LGBT Pulse nightclub in Orlando, has shocked and horrified many, leading to condemnation from governments, world leaders, and communities around the world.

This was a homophobic and transphobic attack, and it was also an act of terror. Those comparing it to the massacres in France and Belgium, as well as 9/11, have a point, but are also missing a crucial aspect of the philosophy behind the slaughter. The biggest gun attack in modern US history specifically targeted the LGBT community, and this is what straight people are failing to understand.

1. If you think you understand the implications, you probably don’t

Many people died, and many more were gravely injured, but there are consequences that extend beyond the immediate bloodbath.

The reality of attacking an LGBT nightclub means that some people have been outed, against their will, as well as terrorised. Some people only found out that their loved ones were gay when they found out they were dead, while other people survived the attack and will be afraid to even tell people that they were there.

In Florida, those who survived the attack and are forced to come out as a result could even legally lose their jobs as a result. And those gay men who turned up to give blood, desperate to help their community to recover from the violence, found themselves turned away thanks to a draconian, homophobic blood donation ban.

2. Gay venues are different

“The local gay disco is the place where you stop being the odd one out.” — Alex Petridis

The first time I walked into a gay nightclub, there was a seismic shift in my very-closeted mind. Seeing these people — my people — dancing together and kissing without fear or self-consciousness gave me a degree of reassurance that no amount of conversation or reading had done to that point.

Not at all the equivalent of going to a mainstream club or pub, LGBT venues allow us to be free of the “tiny little mental calculations we do over the course of our life” (Alex Darke) in order to avoid homophobic and transphobic persecution. We do these calculations in the street, at work, and on regular nights out automatically. But, in gay clubs, we relax a little and stop looking around ourselves to check for safety.

In a discussion with friends, the same themes about LGBT venues came up repeatedly: you don’t have to hide yourself, that DIY scenes deal with intersections, male dominance and other oppressions more effectively, you can avoid *those* men, they are places where you can be who you are, they are often the only spaces we have that serve that purpose, they are often inaccessible to disabled people, and they were hard fought-for and hard won by previous generations of LGBT activists.

Straight, cis people simply do not grasp the significance of these nightclubs and bars, as more than places where we can meet other people who have similar sexual identities. Yet the distinction is important to remember.

“While a lot of people turn to churches, LGBT communities are often forced to use nightclubs as our safe haven, and Pulse was mine.” Daniel Leon-Davis

3. We’re not ‘all LGBT’ now

LGBT people are having the attack straight ‘splained at us from every direction. Straight people need to understand that we do know what we are talking about, and that we have a devastatingly clear understanding of what happened at Pulse on Saturday night.

Journalist Owen Jones walked off the set of a Sky News discussion when the other journalists on the show refused to acknowledge the gay hate that this attack embodied.

On stating that Pulse was “one of the worst atrocities committed against LGBT people in the Western world for generations”, he was told by journalist Mark Longhurst, “It’s something that was carried out against human beings”, later adding that the attack was “on the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves”.

We are not “all LGBT” now, as one person told me. Nor was this attack on the freedom of all people.

Even when well-intentioned, these comments downplay the significance of the gay-hate aspect of the attack. The killer deliberately chose an LGBT club, and deliberately chose a Latinx night at the club, to focus his hate on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people of colour. If we ignore this, we are erasing the identities of those who died and those who suffered.

If it was an “attack on all of us”, why are we still discriminated against? Why did a Moscow gay couple find themselves detained by police after leaving flowers and a placard at the US embassy in honour of the attack? Where have the straight people been until now, when homophobic and transphobic attacks, laws and policies have been so prevalent around the world?

4. This really, really was a hate crime and it really, really was political

Earlier this year, the UK’s Foreign Office warned LGBT Brits against travelling to certain parts of America due to discriminatory laws. Right-wing Americans pledged to carry guns into restrooms in case a trans person was presented and needed, Lord help us, to wee. When the Pope made a public statement about the Orlando attacks, he managed to do so without mentioning once that the victims were LGBT.

In this social and political climate, is it really so surprising that an American-born man was so riled up by his own homophobia and transphobia that, allegedly enraged by seeing two men kissing, he went on a rampage and shot 102 people?

Edward Sissons wrote in the Independent, “Queerphobia is no relic of a bygone era: it exists from the vigilante attacker on the street through to the hallowed institutions of the Congress and the Senate. What drives these attacks is the same hate that drives Republican governors to pass bills removing LGBTQ non-discrimination rights in North Carolina, the same prejudice that makes our blood unviable. Orlando is only an exception in magnitude, not an incident entirely without parallel and precedent.”

The choice of Pulse was not a random one: “You can’t keep us out of fucking bathrooms one week and then claim you care if we live or die the next. You don’t get to claim this for your war on terror.” (Latisha Nichole McDaniel)

5. This is why there’s no ‘straight Pride’

When’s ‘straight Pride’, then?, a whiner asks when the gay Pride marches are bursting with hope and fury. Where’s our safe space?

Orlando is why you don’t need one, and why we do. You may enjoy our rainbow-filled celebrations and our boozy parties, but the reason you don’t need a straight Pride is the same reason we don’t need a white Pride or a men’s Pride. It’s never been needed.

6. Orlando has lost a generation of young LGBT people of colour

Losing 49 people, many of them young, many people of colour, is a devastating loss to any local LGBT community. That’s potentially a whole generation, a whole era, dozens of singles and couples and friends and members of a chosen family.

That will have repercussions in the Orlando gay community for years, even decades, to come.

7. It doesn’t go without saying. Say it.

Many of us feel like we have lost members of our own community, even when we live in different countries. We share a history with those who died, we share a world that is tough, and that is still frightening to live in. We behave differently in queer spaces because we are freer there, and we moderate our behaviours when we are out in the ‘real’ world, as a bid to experience less hate crime and prejudice.

Because of this, you may think that we’re ok, that it goes without saying that you are not homophobic and you condemn the attacks and the men who shout abuse in the streets and the Senators who legislate to make our lives harder.

But it doesn’t go without saying. We need to hear it. So tell us.

Photo: Alisdare Hickson/Creative Commons


67 thoughts on “7 things straight people aren’t understanding about Orlando

  1. Another thing that is different about us is that we are a large coherent community that can be activated. I believe the U.S. LGBTQ community is very well positioned to affect gun changes NOW. As a mix of all ages, races, political affiliations and economic classes WE are in a UNIQUELY stronger position than others affected by gun violence to stand as a block, to organise and to drive legislative change.

    Though gun violence is just one of many issues I have been paying attention to, now is the time for LGBTQs across the country to give it our laser focussed attention.

    Fix universal background checks, yes, pass the Brady bill, yes, but also time to raise the ask: just like with cars and drivers, gun owners must be qualified, licences, registered and must renew their training and licencing over time – not have a once in a lifetime check. Guns must be registered, and all gun sales tracked.

    Ammunition must be identifiable. No deer hunter or home owner who uses a weapon in self defender has any reason to hide who the gun or the bullets belong to.

    1. I am hopeful that your first sentence describes a turning point, a tipping point, in the escalation of violence we’ve seen up until now. I am hopeful that the deaths of those 50 people will — not have “one good thing” come from them; there is no “good” — but help to focus our attention to the point where we get real change.

      There have been too many shootings, but college students, first-graders, and random movie goers have no coherent community to activate. This attack was targeted and it was targeted at people who are not going to quietly accept it as “another day” and go on being quiet.

      1. Please!!! Please!! Put all your might behind getting that do-nothing Congress to Do Some Good!!

    2. Where does one have to renew training to drive a vehicle – a machine that’s causes far, far more deaths than guns. Imagine if those in attendance at Pulse had been armed. The argument that the security guard was armed and shows guns don’t keep people safe is weak and only serves to prove the point that more should have been armed.

      That gun free zone served as a safe space for anyone filled with such sickening hatred to go in and do whatever they wanted. I think of the wonderful club I used to hang out at in Dayton, Ohio (1470 West). The same reasons night clubs and similar venues are dangerous if a fire breaks is what makes them dangerous if some psycho decides to kill people – limited exits through which hundreds of people must escape in the case of an emergency. Only in this emergency if people were armed they could have fought back.

      I wish I could understand why people think making more people helpless will keep anyone safe.

      1. The rest of us wish we could understand how more civilian people shooting in utter chaos and panic could have helped anything (and since they’re at a nightclub, probably having a few drinks, which, of course, a responsible gun owner would never do, ergo they wouldn’t have much of a reason to be hanging out at a nightclub with their piece at all….)

        Why is it that America is so different from the other developed nations that have done away with civilian-owned firearms? I guess we’re just so individualistic (self-centered) whereas other countries have much more community/human-focused attitudes that mean they can act in the interest of the common good, instead of clinging to their ego-boosting firepower.

  2. Thanks for inviting me as a straight man to say something. I’m too often told that since I’m straight or white or male, I have nothing to say, and that even my advocacy is unwelcome. I sometimes fear that this ensures that only the homophobes speak for the straights so that the victim position and us/them binary can be perpetuated as an entitlement, rather than working together to say yes to love and no to fear, hatred and violence. Point 7 gives me space to be part of the solution. Sometimes I am shut out until I pull the ‘my child is lgbt’ card, then I’m admitted. That’s not the best way forward. We DO need to be told how we don’t get it and taught, as in this great article, how we can start to get it.

    1. Thank you so much for seeing this is not anti-straight. We want our allies and we will support you in every way we can.

    2. Thank you! Best comment I’ve read all day!

      I also appreciate the chance to say “I’m not homophobic, this hate attack was not ok, it affects LGBTQ people I know and love.”

      Situations like this bring out a naturally protective “us” and “them” dynamic, but it’s sometimes counter-productive. Do I have to understand everything perfectly before I’m allowed to care? Of course not. Point 7 helps break down the barriers of assumption from both sides without being condescending. After all, I’m not totally ignorant even though I may not “get” everything. So let’s start with one important thing I know: I’d like to be part of the solution. Keeping the channels of communication open and active is a positive step.

    3. So close. You acknowledge nicely that there are things to learn but what you mostly chose to say was to complain about not being given enough of a platform within the community. As a person of multiple privileges, your voice is prioritized everywhere else. If you want to be an ally, take the invitation to lend your voice and amplify the messages that get lost. The fact that you are not given priority within queer communities is how it should be. This is concern trolling and completely unproductive. Please keep trying.

      1. Sam, I did not see her asking for a priority to speak or a larger part of the platform in the queer community. As I read it, she is asking to be heard and keep the channels open. Let’s allow her to do that.

      2. Sam, drop it. You are well-intentioned, but all you are truly doing is creating and us.vs.them mentality and shutting people out.

      3. Sam is right. I kept waiting for the point that was to be made after the “wah, wah” part. Even after the “my child is LGBTQ ‘card'” comment. And nothing ever came.

        Sam was correct, and sincere. We don’t need straight people to tell us we’re oppressing them. We need straight allies to tell other straight folks they are oppressing us.

        BJ may well become a better ally if he decides to listen to Sam. But that’s up to him.

        Now, hopefully, back to the actual conversation?

      4. I’m with you, Sam. BJ was close…but sooooo far! Shame on these few people tone-policing you, here. I’m sorry they feel the need to do that to you. Fuck them.

        My 2 main problems with BJs comment were:

        1. Like you already said so well, Sam, complaining about not being given a platform, or rightfully being “checked” before being allowed in to a safe space. We don’t need your privileged ass cishet white male tears, BJ. We need your hard work. Your child needs your hard work. Sounds to me like you’re almost understanding the hard work that comes along with being – or in your case knowing someone who is – TQLGB. It comes off that you’re complaining about being dragged in to a responsibility you otherwise would not be assuming, if it were not for your child. It then sounds like you use this child when it is advantageous, while complaining about how hard it is to now be there for this fight. Be stronger. Your child is going to need you. Trust me. This is the least concerning “tragedy”, here. Don’t try to stunt on how great of a straight ally you are….on a post about how to be a good straight ally. Refer to #3.

        2. Putting the burden of proof on the oppressed. “We DO need to be told how we don’t get it and taught, as in this great article, how we can start to get it.” Just… GTFO with this gem of a finale. The truth comes out! First of all….”how we can start to get it”? Get what?! How not to be an asshole? Just don’t be an asshole! Be a decent person who doesn’t see their child as “LGBT”, but as a child. Be there for them when they are struggling. Keep your pain to yourself. Go to a “straight white male parent of LGBT child” support group or some shit. All I know is, get your weak ass cishet white male tears OUT of here. Secondly, we DONT have to tell or teach you shit. They’re called books. (Hit that google if you don’t have a library card, because I know you got about 5 apple products.) Go learn from the members of our community who have already carried that great burden. Go learn from the lives WE have already lost, not you. They lost their lives carrying that burden, and I won’t let you take more. I’ll suggest a book, though, because I see you clearly need it. It’s called, “Feminism is for Everybody”, by Bell Hooks. Go get your intersectional on.

        I fear for your child, BJ. Time for a reality check, for your child’s sake. If that child matters to you, you will hear me out – even through tone, policers of that tone and all.

        I think your comment was the most productive piece of this thread, Sam. For what it’s worth. Ironic how that works out. The tone policers claiming you are unproductive….what else is less productive than policing how someone speaks truth? Fuck those unproductive pieces of shit. The only reason any of us who are TQLGB, can be this….is because of FIGHTING back. Transwomen of color lead riots and Pride marches, and we ALL owe our thanks to THEM. We call allies “allies” for a reason. It’s a war. Choose your side. You are either with equality, or you’re not. There is no gray area. You can’t sort of be for equality…lol

    4. I’m an ally. I have too many friends who could have been in that club. Many of them have friends who knew someone in that club.

      I hadn’t thought about pont # 6 before; for that I apologize. I am pleased to realize that I did understand points 1-5 before reading this. And I, like BJ, thank you for point # 7. I don’t have the “my child is…” card and the “Some of my friends…”card has been played too often and without truth.

      I won;t say you need us, but we can help, if you let us.

  3. Every time I read something about gay bars being universally safe and sacred, I am painfully reminded that because my trauma is considered an anomaly, it’s also not considered a priority. I am a lesbian and the first time I went to a gay bar, I was sexually assaulted by another lesbian and a bisexual man. The tragedy in Orlando has further cemented my fear of gay bars, the illusory safety of which was taken from me before the shooting. I am also reminded that gay bars were never really “safe” in the way that people are heralding them to be in light of this shooting. When gay bars first opened, state sanctioned violence against their patrons was routine. I wonder how we can talk about the sort of spaces created in gay bars while also acknowledging that deeply rooted trauma people have experienced in and surrounding them. I don’t find that nuance present in the ways you described them here. I know that my assault was motivated by lesbophobia and misogyny (as both my assailants commented on my femininity throughout the night of the assault) and I know that both of those forces were present in the bar that night, and not just in my assailants. How do we honor what gay bars do for the lgbtq community while also holding them accountable for not being safe for everyone?

    1. Jennifer … just … wow. I do not know how to answer the question in your final sentence — how to both honor the spaces and hold them accountable for not being safe for everyone. And I am struck by your pointing out that that gay bars (even without the trauma you experienced) were never really “safe”, either from individual assaults or from state sanctioned violence (both of which I experienced, back in the day). Thank you for drawing attention to this dichotomy — and for pulling back any gauzy veil of “safe and sacred” around gay bars. In the intense heat surrounding the Orlando massacre, it is easy to portray Pulse (and by extension, all other LGBTQ refuges) as being sanctuaries. They certainly can be, but that’s not inviolable.

    2. Jennifer: Witnessing what you say here. Thank you for speaking your truth and the truth of many, many others. You have made a beginning here. Strength to you. And healing.

      1. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. As an expert in self defense, I find point number 2 in this article to be irresponsible journalism. This is actually a very good article, but can we ever let our guard down? I’m not an advocate of cynicism, and I love humans being human beings. The business principle of “trust and verify” applies to societal principle.

    3. just a point about bars in general: they’re not really truly safe for anyone, n/m straight, gay or otherwise and that’s simply because you tend to find plenty of drunk and/or stoned people in them. however, at least a bar for the LGTBQN people would cut out the chance of being attacked for being a person of …letters.

  4. This was great information regardless what side of the LGBT community you support. I think knowledge is power and folks need to educate themselves and learn about the unfamiliar. They will find its much closer to themselves than realized. Thank You!

  5. I feel as sad and angry as I have ever been after such events, which are way too common-place. I really thought after Sandy Hook: this will be the one that puts it over the top and forces the NRA money grubbers in congress to do the right thing …

    I also feel compassion for the misguided and obviously self-hating, hate-full individual who attacked *my family* last Sunday. I’ll get over it, but not quickly or without a great deal of marching, sitting in meditation, writing letters, making phone calls, and definitely not until a modicum of control over these completely egregious and erroneous notions that ‘gun control’ will erase the second amendment become past history.

    The only thing I want our next generation to know about us was that the LGBT community got us over the top of this huge, scary mountain. NOW is the time for everyone to keep kissing and loving each other as publicly and proudly as all our loving and proud folks were, and always have been, before the bullets started flying.

  6. I’m with you on all but #6:

    “6. Orlando has lost a generation of young LGBT people of colour; Losing 49 people, many of them young, many people of colour, is a devastating loss to any local LGBT community. That’s potentially a whole generation, a whole era, dozens of singles and couples and friends and members of a chosen family. That will have repercussions in the Orlando gay community for years, even decades, to come.”

    I strongly disagree that Orlando has lost a “Generation” of LGBT youth of color, not even “Potentially” or “A whole era”. You underestimate their strenght, resiliancy, and influs of new people.

    “Dozens” and future “Repurcussions” I agree with.

  7. I pray for the day when the idiocy and hatred are no longer. Why should it even be an issue whether you are gay, straight or whatever you are? Folks is folks.

    I am truly sorry that so much misunderstanding and evil exist in our world.
    My prayers go out to everyone involved.

  8. Jennifer – You’re quite right to call out the article for its cozy portrayal of gay bars. Thanks for being honest about your experience. In most cities that have a gay quarter, these places arose in the seediest parts of town. Gay bars were tolerated wherever other illegal or ‘immoral’ behavior was tolerated. I’d say there’s still a persisting attitude from some clients and proprietors that it’s fine to step over the bounds of legality or morality.

    … but, as you say, some people do find a refuge and community through gay bars and good things do happen in them.

  9. I am a straight white American woman. Now I am 59 years old, and live in Maine. But when I was in my teens and 20’s, I lived in Miami Beach. My two favorite kinds of places to party were Cuban clubs or Gay clubs. Because the Cubans had the BEST food and good fun, and the Gay people had the BEST fun and good food. Anyone could have been there. Any person who saw a club that looked fun. Forty years later, I wish we could all get over it and just look at each other for what we are. People. My heart hurts because in 1976 South Beach Miami, I feel we were more accepting of EVERYONE regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation. I really feel we are going backwards. Those my age born in the mid forties to mid fifties., remember the “make love not war”? We who were “hippies” loved everyone. Fighting for civil rights, fighting for women’s rights! It was not long ago. Please forward this message to all the old hippies who might of forget what we used to believe in. Debra Pataky.

  10. I am a friend of the LGBTQ community. Now is not the time for silence. If these tragic events have taught us nothing else, it’s that now is the time unite with one voice. To stand strong in our conviction that we must fight, or die trying. Solidarity!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  11. I will tell you…

    I am not homophobic. I condemn the attacks that were, without question, directed at the LGBTQ community. It was a hate crime… This wasn’t done for Islam, but in spite of it. In spite of religious zealots who have, for centuries, made it shameful to own ones sexuality. This man, clearly self loathing- without any true acceptance or love of his true self wanted to take from society what he so desperately wanted himself.

    This wasn’t an act committed against all humanity. It was committed against YOU.
    I am sorry that I haven’t fought as hard as I have needed to. I am sorry that, until today, I tolerated the passive bigotry from “friends” on facebook, masked in patriotism.
    It’s disgusting. It is wrong. And I am sorry.

    Much love and acceptance.

    Sincerely,

    Mom.

  12. As a transman, though from age of 16 to 24 as an out lesbian I was acutely aware of the danger, I decided a long time ago I’d rather be out, than closeted and powerless and self hating. However, since as a transman I no longer have had to deal with the hatred as a visible butch dyke, I got complacent.

    It’s been years since someone has physically assaulted me for being queer, even years since verbal attacks (in public, online I’ve had plenty of men tell me I am still a woman, as I debate anti transgender laws and try to get one of them to admit they must be ok with me using the women’s restroom if the law they support forces transwomen into the men’s restroom I still have yet to get someone to answer and andmit that if they don’t want transwomen in the bathroom, they have to be ok with me as a transman there). But though I don’t know a single souls who was murdered in Orlando, our community is so small that some people I know did. And the it took a couple days to go from anger to crying, but I cried more in the last three days than I have in the last three years. These were in my 46 year old book- kids. They were half my age. They were able to come out with much more ease than I was in the 80s. Yet still, in the one space they shouldn’t have had to watch their backs for being gay they were murdered.

    I’m mad at both the republicans and democrats who are too spineless to acknowledge this was a homophobic thing. Particularly in the case of republicans who are passing April LGBT laws as a psych back for gay marriage (gays were permits house to them, however when they want to marry, no way, talk about catch 22 when they won’t acknowledge marriage). Prayers don’t mean crap. Suddenly considering us Americans when you fight against our right to not be fired or denied housing or peeing in the right restroom when you didn’t give us the rights as American taxpayer doesn’t mean crap, republicans. And democrats, if you’re too spineless, particularly as you are running for office to say enough is enough with the hatred towards LGBT, then don’t expect our support as you run for election or reelection. We are tired of being something people are ashamed of. We are pissed off that many of our allies found the time to talk about the Paris attacks or Sandy hook and put a flag on their picture but while our community suffered this attack you have said nothing, and the excuse is it hits too close to home. Imagine how we feel, when our allies tint even talk about something or give it a “like” when it appears they were much more upset about other mass shootings. We need you NOW . We need you to put a dumb rainbow flag over your profile pic while we aren’t dancing and having fun, but crying at the reality that anti LGBT hate crimes have gone up in recent years, and anti LGBT legislation had been amped up and passed and we have been sharing it yet you don’t remember that because it doesn’t affect you.

    I super appreciate the many people that don’t judge but support me, but now is the time to speak up if you’re an ally. If you’re not, why? Do you not want to have your uncle or cousins direct homophobia or transphobia towards you, as you have seen them do towards us? First off- you will have more influence on changing their perspective as someone who isn’t LGBT. Second- remember nazi Germany. If you don’t speak up for us, they will continue. If you don’t speak up for us, you will be next. But quite honestly, if you don’t speak up for us, you’re not really an ally, you’re just afraid of confrontation, but you don’t have our backs. That’s not an ally. That’s just being ok with us but being not willing to stand up for us.

  13. Don’t jump to the conclusion that you get to claim all of us as a”block” for a non LGBT issue like disarming the American population. This gay man is armed for self and home defense, and I don’t appreciate the suggestion that I should be made more vulnerable to a hate crime just because this one happened. Personally I encourage people to learn if there is a Pink Pistols chapter near you and start practicing!! There’s a great deal of empowerment in knowing that you can save dozens of lives by being in the right place at the right time … including your own.

  14. Please understand. I am heterosexual, and I do understand. I understand 100% every bit of this. I have too many gay friends to not understand the struggle. You have my full support, I am not questioning why you have pride, I am happy to see it. Your fight for love, tolerance and understanding benefits us all. Please, never stop fighting!

  15. The Orlando mass murders were many things. Primary and foremost, it was indeed, a hate crime perpetrated against the LGBT Community. That it also was racially inspired I can’t say. I don’t know the area and what other LGBT nightclubs are in the area and if they catered to specific ethnicities, including whites. But it was a targeted gay environment.

    It was also an attack on all lifestyles, because one such is attacked by a single individual whose intolerance manifests itself in active violence, then every group has something to fear from some other whacko with a hatred of: African-Americans; Caucasians; Mexican-Americans; Muslims; Catholics; Protestants; red heads; mixed race couples; etc. etc. etc.

    Think you are immune? As the Boston Marathon attack a few years ago proves, anyone and everyone is a potential victim of terrorism. All terrorism is founded upon hatred and intolerance.

    In Nazi Germany, it the Jewish population that was targeted.

    In the United States, it is the LGBT population that was targeted this time. Next time it could be your life style threatened; your particular faith; your particular skin color that feels the cross hairs swing across your body.
    Straight or gay, or transgender, or member of any given religion or ethnic heritage, we all must register protest against the kind of loopholes that allows someone to quickly purchase two military grade weapons off the shelf, as it were, with a background check absent or some minimal that he or she can do so with not even an asterisk entered on their file.

    “Assault” style semi- and full-auto weapons have no purpose whatsoever to be in civilian possession. Write your politicians, local, state and national to begin the legal process of ending the ease of such opportunities.

  16. He may have eventually attacked another target, but I don’t think so. His self-hatred, fed by his religion and society in general, chose his target. The easy availability of guns is a wrong that lies on the Supreme Court and Congress.

  17. As the granny of two gay men, this article revealed a whole new eye opener to me; I love my grandsons so much and I never realized some of the ramifications of their situation; i.e., being able to be who they are when surrounded by their fellow gays in a place like pause. I hope there will be more understanding of how disaffected we have all seemed when this sort of tragedy occurs.

  18. As a straight white woman, I don’t see this article as anti-straight at all. I may not “get it”, but believe me, I get it.

  19. I absolutely agree with everything that was written in this article, but what bothers me was that there was not one mention of jihad in entire article.

    1. The particular flavor of hatred claimed by this assailant is irrelevant. Hate and violence are practiced by folks claiming any and all religions and creeds.

  20. My daughter was lesbian at least 2 years before I found out. It absolutely broke my heart, not because of her choices but because I thought I knew her so well, and then I felt like I didn’t know who she was and kept wondering what other secrets she was keeping from me. We were able to heal together because we had each other. As mentioned above so many of these young lives were taken before they had “come out” to their parents, employers or relatives. I can’t imagine what would have happened if I found out about my daughter after she had died!! My heart goes out to those parents. We all need to keep communication lines open. Keep fighting and loving. God asks us all to love each other, Love makes us all stronger. I have been on the verge of tears all week, and just let it out last night. Things like this help, talking about it helps, everyone gay, straight, black or white is hurting. If we can all learn to fight together instead of against each other it will certainly make it easier.

  21. While I agree completely that this was a hate crime against the LGBQT community in Orlando, a point must be corrected. Not all victims that died in this act of terrorism were from the LGBQT community. Luis Vielma, a 22 year old straight man went to Pulse with friends. He worked the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios Orlando. He was memorialized on Twitter by J.K. Rowling.

    Amanda Alvear & Mercedez Marisol Flores, best friends. They felt safer in gay clubs. They thought they would never be drugged or assaulted by men while at a gay club.

    Miguel Angel Horonato, husband of Minerva, father of Joel, Julien, and Miguel Jr. He was out with three friends that evening. All three friends made it home safely.

    Cory Connell, at Pulse with his girlfriend. He was just 21, with hopes of becoming a firefighter.

    Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, a 49 year old mother and cancer survivor. She was at Pulse with her son. She saw Mateen shooting, told her son to get down, got in from of him and took two bullets protecting her son. Her son survived.

    Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, survived by her husband and two young sons. She went to Pulse with a group of friends, including her brother-in-law. He was shot twice, but survived.

    It’s too soon to make any assumptions that this has affected only one community. It has affected one community much more than others, but many, many more have also have felt this pain.

  22. Another thing is many gay people come to this country because they feel safe here . Many of them suffered persecution in their country like me, sadly they found the death. 😢

  23. I’m a straight woman. I’ll say whatever you want but this is what I did. In 1984 I was driving on the streets of San Francisco and turned the corner and saw a guy getting beat up in the middle of the street. He was a small guy, I am a 6 foot tall woman, I figured he was gay. It was San Francisco, I’m a fag hag, I cold tell, so shoot me. So this guy’s getting beat up. I jumped out of the car and heard all the anti gay BS the bruiser was pouring on this guy as he kicked him on the ground. I charged the A**hat and he fled the scene. Sometimes my not being a delicate little thing comes in handy. Another time I was on the bus, again in San Francisco in the 80s and I heard some gang bangers talking about another clearly gay kid traveling alone and how they were going to get off at his stop and teach him a lesson. When the kid got off the bus, the thugs followed him, so did I. I caught up with him and introduced myself and we had a nice chat while the idiots got the message and left. I guess dressing all in black and wearing Docs sent a message too. Orlando was a monstrous attack on a community. Of course of various communities cannot know what it’s like to suffer attacks and be targeted and hated and to have to just assume you are hated until somebody goes out of their way to prove they are not a blind hatefilled sick f**k. Of course we’re not all gay now. And of course this was a targeted attack on a specific group of people who ALSO happened to be human. But the darkness is growing, and all of our “groups” need to start having each other’s backs or we are all lost.

  24. As a 17 sexually fluid girl ( many years ago now) I spent my first nightclubbing years in the gays bars in Melbourne. I was also a professional dancer and so were many of my gay friends. The freedom we all had to be safe and silly was taken for granted by me for so long. My first experience in regular clubs I felt like I was a show for the people who want d to hit on me and that wanting to dance by myself made me odd. Now obviously this never made me fear for my life but it brought how to me how secure I used to be.
    I’m now way to old to enjoy nightclubs, although once in a while I will venture to Poof Doof, this attack broke my heart and when they took the Muslim agenda to the forefront I almost lost my mind.
    Because even if you want it to be a religious thing where are all the Christians and other groups reaching out to protect the LGBTI community,before this happened. No where. They were carry guns to protect themselves from urination of transgender.
    I weep for the loss of safety the violation of their sanctuaries the persecution and being made to feel other.
    This was not an attack on all of our freedoms just some and the time has come to stop the madness

  25. I am a straight cis female. As a member if the Leather community I understand these things all too well. I have stood on the sidewalk outside the Eagle Bar and listened to the hatred being spewed from passing cars. I have been asked why I waste my time hanging out with, and loving my gay family. My answer is: everyone deserves live and acceptance. I SEE you and I STAND WITH you!

  26. I am a straight, white social worker from Detroit. Thank you for this article. I have learned a great deal and will share this with others through my work. Being a better ally begins with listening. Thank you, again.

  27. As a kinky person, I maybe understand a little bit better the relief and joy one feels at being at a venue where you’re ‘normal’ instead of weird, meeting people who become dear friends (or fiancé), the uneasiness of revealing too much to others not in the scene. Even the fear of professional repercussions if I were ‘outed.’

    But my existence, my love, my sex have never been denied, banned, or attacked by governments. While my parents sure as hell don’t understand, and I don’t share the true nature of my relationship and how we met with my colleagues in education… I’ve never been threatened with termination, being disowned, being murdered. And while society may mock BDSM (thanks, ‘Bones’), or wildly misconstrue This Thing We Do, it’s an eye-rolling disdain, nothing like the vile, poisonous vitriol that is still somehow okay to express towards LGBTQ people.

    The attack at Pulse is the logical endpoint to the hateful, violent rhetoric regularly spewed from preachers and politicians everywhere. How can any homophobe deny responsibility for this massacre, deny that hate speech engenders hatred, deny that preaching ‘sin’ and ‘abomination’ sounds like ‘license to kill’?

    My heart goes out to the LGBTQ community of Orlando, and everywhere. This was meant to terrorize you, in a space safe from the precarities of the world at large. This was to remind you of your unique vulnerability, and marginalization. However, I do hope that the love and support from hetero allies can bring some comfort that the world is changing. The murderer felt an impotent rage when he saw two men kissing in public – but such a sight would have never happened a few short years ago. The world is moving forward toward love and acceptance, and the hateful are scared because they’re being left behind.

  28. In response to comment 1: The LGBTQ community is one of the few, if not the only communities in America, that can speak from a spectrum rather than one set point of view. You have so much diversity not just in sexuality or skin color, but in education, class, occupation, religious affiliation, political affiliation, and interests. You can include much more readily than any other group, and this is a matter of great celebration in IMHO. I am not officially any of the letters (though I’ve been called “queer” often enough) and not cis either so I can only speak on my observations (and I’ll pull out the “a handful of my cousins are lesbians” card though this does not imply that I have any understanding and I can also pull out my “woman” or “pagan” cards, which again grants me no authority). I am looking toward your community in many matters to inform me on what affects people who simply want to “live and let live.” As for Orlando, I am numb. I am disconnected after so many attacks, regardless of the identity of the victims, but I will say this: each attack highlights a very real and tangible hate against a group whether it is LGBTQ or Puerto Ricans or Muslims. Each one is motivated by fear of “otherness.” Each one must be addressed individually and acknowledged for what it is. Though #alllivesmatter #somelivesmattermorethanothers in the media, in the eyes of the amorphous beast of public opinion, and this is what I cannot and will not tolerate. We cannot change this hate by trying to force others to change (that’s the agenda of fear). We can only change ourselves. We must address our hurts (because yes, there are valid hurts that cause fear) and look beyond the “force-fed” narrative of our media. We must become what we want to see in the world. We must seek new experiences with the “other,” whatever “other” happens to be for us. This change includes activism (such as gun laws, which affect us all) and education (planting seeds is always good), but it also includes standing up for “others” when whatever privilege we may have can be put to use. I’m not just writing this for the LGBTQ community. I am also writing this for everyone who doesn’t identify in that manner who cares and wants to know what they can do. Educate yourself. Break your biases (ALWAYS assume you have them and question). Stand up for equitable and respectful treatment. Empower with kindness and awareness. And in return, I am asking for the LGBTQ community to do something very difficult: be kind to others as they struggle to understand and help (because they will piss you off with their ignorance). Guide them despite the anger and hurt you may feel. American society has not been kind to your community but you have a very strong, inclusive, and pragmatic voice because your community represents the fullest spectrum of humanity on the planet. The freedom and equality of every person in this country is reflected in your struggle and it’s time we wake up and acknowledge this rather than remaining apart and separate. This is a pivotal time in American history. What narrative do we want to write?

  29. While we stand together now. We must remember not to ostracize others in our bars because they are too fat, too bald, too old, on and on and on. I also heard that others treated the shooter as though he was too weird and that could have been another reason for his outrage. I This is why I hardly stepped into a gay bar after 25. I didn’t even feel wanted in my own community. And it angered me and still affects me to this day. So please people. Be kind and reach out to those who are standing alone in a corner. You may just find a warm hearted new friend. Love and peace To all.

  30. i was leaving a club in new york at the same time the shooter was entering pulse. so my first reaction was ‘why call it a gay club? it can happen anywhere’ but no, the reality is that theres a valid reason why it wasnt the club i was in that was targeted. we are still discussing bathrooms, and blood donations. until the topic of bathrooms and blood donation, and even marriage stops being a topic, it will never be an us and we. im sorry for that. people use stereotypes and labels to push aside what they feel isnt ‘like them’. we need to move towards a place when there are no stereotypes and labels. i didnt think about the fact that people might have been outed against their will until i read this. thats a valid point. the entire article makes many valid points. i cant believe people are still being turned away from donating blood because of their sexual orientation. and thats not completely true…because if you are straight, and want to donate blood, you arent being turned away. so as far as weve come, we havent come far enuff. thats heartbreaking. ive shared this article. i hope people actually read it, and ‘get’ it. im sorry for all our losses.

  31. I grew up in a very conservative neighborhood with pretty conservative parents. The only time I had ever even heard the word “gay” before I got to high school was from my grandma who had a gay cousin that was murdered for being gay in the 50’s. Luckily she always taught me that other people’s lives are not my business, you support where you can, you advocate when you can, & you always remember that you will never fully understand their internal struggles. As a far more liberal adult now in a larger city, I am so proud of my LGBT friends that fight every single day. They fight for equality, they fight to overcome the stigma, & nothing makes me more proud than when I am able to fight with them side by side as their straight alliance sister. it can be very difficult to fight alongside because I have been questioned about my motives by some people in the LGBT community, and my motives are simple. I was taught love. I learned to love everyone and everything, I love seeing people in love, I love love itself so greatly I want everyone to have it. (& I also just don’t care for bigots and assholes so…) I will always stand by you. I will always advocate for you. I won’t allow myself to be wounded when questioned. We are one.

  32. Here’s the thing about #3, or at least a thing: If you’re straight, ask yourself “Is it easier for me to say ‘We’re all LGBTQ now!’ or for an LGBTQ person to say ‘I’m LGBTQ!’ in public?” If you come to the conclusion the former is easier — and you definitely should — then you’ll hopefully see that we’re not all LGBTQ now, because that fear of consequences based on nothing more than revealed identity is part of the LGBTQ experience. I wish very very much that it wasn’t, and hopefully that day will come, not just here but everywhere.

    But no. It’s great to say “I support LGBTQ rights!” and it’s a delight to hear it every time it’s said sincerely. Let’s maybe be friends! But the LGBTQ experience isn’t all rainbow flags and shows on Bravo (sorry, I’m old) and fun stuff and unicorns and that’s just how it is for now. So we are not all LGBTQ now, no.

  33. I agree! I’m 54 and see so much more division now. It’s depressing how we’ve regressed. What I don’t is when every family, mine included, has gay, transgender, black, Jewish , Catholic, Hindu etc in the family….where is all the strife coming from? I swear our government manufactures it.

  34. I’m a straight, heterosexual white man, 58 years old. One of my children is a member of the LGBTQ community, and I realized while reading this that she has “protected” me from her “wholeness,” I have never seen her kiss her wife passionately, or seen either of them playfully squeeze the other’s butt- the kinds of “PDA” so many people “groan” about when hetero couples do them, and it saddens me that I’ve never seen that. She has “filtered” that out of her life when I am around. It’s not what I want, but to “stay safe” from any misperception I may have.
    The entire article is excellent, and the comments telling, too, particularly the “veil” of safety one commenter shatters.
    I know nothing of this struggle, truly, the struggle my sweet, beautiful daughter faces every day, and am moved by this because it shows me how ignorant- and “protected” I am. Thank you to the writers AND the commenters. Maybe my mind is a little more open tonight. Blessings and peace to all who perished and were injured at Pulse, and to all who are deeply affected by this insanity.
    Thank you all.
    Tom

  35. I deplore the acts against LGBT in the Pulse nightclub. I am a transwoman, and there is a point or two here all you cisgender miss too. IF there were a trans person in that club, and they were killed, then the fact they were trans was whitewashed over. This is the history of the trans population in the LGBT community. Yes homophobia is rampant out there, but the transphobia is much greater than that. Not only the straight population, but many of the LGB are transphobic. Gay clubs are sometimes not the haven for us that others see it as. Time after time, we are killed, maimed or otherwise harmed and nobody says a word. Any killing is deplorable, but the dirty little secret of the LGBT community is that many could not care less about the T.

  36. Thank you. From a white bisexual woman with both a lesbian sister and daughter, thank you.
    I have no fear when I hold my girl’s hand in public. I might get a dirty look, an asinine comment, but never could I imagine this as a response. There’s all my white privilege in a nut shell, right?

    I will remain an ally, even when I don’t seem to fit in. I will never say that I understand the full impact, but I thank you for trying to help me do so.

  37. This is a great piece! I have a question about one line, though: GLBT venues “are often inaccessible to disabled people”? Is that a typo? Because if not, I think that needs to change so that disabled gay people have a similar safe space to be.

  38. Wow at the cluelessness of the guy mentioned in the article who said that this was an attack on all people’s freedom to go out and enjoy themselves. I can’t figure out if he is really that obtuse or intentionally trying to dilute the significance of what happened.

    I’m a 43 year old straight white male. I’ve seen my fair share of people make naive remarks about the Pulse shooting, and about the fact that it was a gay venue or how the people were gay and I tell them, whether or not you approve of what they do – not that your approval is necessary or desired – every single person that was killed or injured there was someone’s child. Someone’s sibling. Someone’s lover. Someone’s friend. And possibly even someone’s mother or father.

    And lastly, it absolutely sickens me as someone who was raised with a Christian upbringing, to see supposed Christians out there protesting with signs invoking God’s name with Bible verses written on them. In my opinion, those people have as much to do with Christianity as Isis does to Islam.

  39. Thanks for writing. Gay male here. I pray that the survivors recover and have the support they need. This is the intersection of so much sadness. It looks like if he had been going there as a regular for years then it was in part triggered by internalised homophobia which needs to be discussed as well. What informed his racism to target a latin night but have “no problem with black people”? Could he have had mental health support? Plus complete failure of your country with responsible gun control.

    BTW A straight muslim male friend shared your article on Facebook which is how I found it (proud of him).

  40. “It was also an attack on all lifestyles.”

    No, no, it was not. Stop trying to perpetuate this steaming pile of manure. It makes you look as clueless as the people who go around spouting “all lives matter” to the “black lives matter” crowd.

  41. I am part of the BDSM community. I HAVE been fired for what it is that we do. It does happen.

  42. I didn’t even know, how to start this comment. With the words of ingenuous condolence or literal “Female, straight. Russian”.
    What happened in Pulse nightclub was a real tragedy. Innocent people died. But was it an act of terror ? I have to admit that in my country I’ve never heard this to be claimed. But on the international news – yes, it was. Just because of the muslim who was responsible. But it is not a MUSLIM commited that crime what makes this an act of terror, but the fact that it was an LGBT club selected for the decimation. A COMMUNITY – chosen. And that is what made me personally call what happened in Orlando an ‘act of terror and pure violence’.

    This is true that it’s almost illegal to be gay or bisexual in my country. And that’s why many amazing people are sometimes even afraid to come. Just because they are not safe here. Not only from strange and scathing looks, but even from police. Just for their nature, for people they chose to love. And it drives me nut. Cause some people are so overdosed with their hate, that they truly beleve they have the right to approve and even commend on the tragedy just happened.
    But these kind of haters exist everywhere. Some of them are just stupid, others are bored, and the rest – are cruel and as one of my friend once said about people commiting acts of violence or approving them : Such people are not muslim or christian. They do not have religion. Or country. They can’t have one, because they are not even human beings.
    And I totally agree.
    But for some straight people by saying “It was a tragedy commited against human beings” without orientation of these human beings’ being stated – it is just the way to present their condolences. Not because they do not admit that it was an act of terror against the chosen community, but because they understand it is political and just do not want it to be. And because not supporting in general the gay-marriages, for example, doesn’t mean they now mourn less.

    PS. Before reading this article It didn’t come up to my mind that some people got to know their friends or relatives were in LGBT only after the accident. Only after their death. And it freaked me out. As well as the fact that some people can’t even say that they were in Pulse that night.

    With all of support and grief,
    Jane

  43. As a FTM Trans man I could easily be silent… except I can’t. 49 innocent, beautiful and vibrant members of my community, my tribe, my Spirit family were murdered. being invisibility is painful and complicit. Here my words, in my own voice, spoken using the Go Live function on Facebook. It’s a public post so you’re welcome to watch if you choose.
    Namaste’
    Rafe
    https://www.facebook.com/Love-In-Service-1382577178642308/

  44. Psychology student and DJ from Europe here. As a disabled woman, I experienced some violence. I understand that the LGBTQ community and not only them are hurting. I know some of you are fighting prejudice or trauma or both. Sending solidarity over the ocean.

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