The Fact Is, the Worst Shooting in US History Targeted the LGBTQ Community
50 dead. 53 injured. Dozens of families and groups of friends in unimaginable pain. Americans—especially those in the LGBTQ community—left afraid and confused.
Those are some of the effects of Saturday night's shooting at a popular gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The tragedy was this country's 173rd mass shooting of 2016 and the worst gun massacre in US history.
— Mic (@mic) June 13, 2016
This was not an indiscriminate massacre: A homophobic gunman specifically targeted the gay community.
— POLITICO (@politico) June 12, 2016
What happened at Pulse
Saturday was Latin flavor night at Orlando's "hottest gay bar," Pulse. Around 2 am there were about 300 people in the club, including many patrons from the Hispanic and LGBTQ communities.
Every shooting hurts, but a shooting at a Latino night at a gay bar during Immigrant Heritage Month and Pride Month stings a salty sting.
— Mathew Rodriguez (@mathewrodriguez) June 12, 2016
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) June 12, 2016
Despite the fact that Mateen had been under FBI surveillance for possible terrorist ties, he had just bought his guns legally, days earlier.
In video from the scene, you can hear the gunman firing 24 rounds in only nine seconds.
— CBSN (@CBSNLive) June 13, 2016
At 2:09 am, Pulse's Facebook page posted a simple, chilling status:
Some club patrons were trapped inside in a tense hostage situation for a full three hours, until police broke the front door down with an armored vehicle, stormed the club, and took Mateen out. Dozens were dead inside, and others died on the way to the hospital.
It was the deadliest shooting in American history.
The shooter targeted the LGBTQ community
What's not clear is how dedicated Mateen was to the Islamic State. (He swore allegiance to ISIS in a phone call to 911, moments before the attack.) It's not clear how fully radicalized he was, though he'd been investigated by the FBI.
It looks like that Mateen worked alone, without support or training from ISIS.
— Mic (@mic) June 13, 2016
I really don't get gun control vs terrorism, hate crime vs terrorism debate. #OrlandoShooting is all of the above.
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) June 13, 2016
You can't silence us. Have you met a gay person before? We've been fighting to live our lives since we were born.
— Ryan O'Connell (@ryanoconn) June 12, 2016
What is clear is that he targeted the LGBTQ community. He obviously chose Pulse deliberately.
— Alex Fitzpatrick (@AlexJamesFitz) June 13, 2016
Orlando isn't the first time a gay bar has been targeted. Here's a brief history of other violent anti-LGBT attacks. https://t.co/Fiy7ahgyBm
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) June 13, 2016
Before the Orlando shooting, the fight over North Carolina's discriminatory bathroom law (and other anti-transgender and anti-LGBTQ rights laws) reminded us just how far away LGBTQ equality really is in this country.
A gay man who survived #orlando hate crime can STILL show up to work in FL tomorrow and have his boss fire him simply because he is gay.
— Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) June 12, 2016
It's possible Mateen was inspired by Muslim Sharia law, which explicitly states that homosexuality is a sin punishable by death.
Mateen's father said that his son wasn't motivated by religious extremism. He did say his son became upset after seeing two gay men kissing in Miami.
June is Gay Pride month
— Rhea Butcher (@RheaButcher) June 12, 2016
June is LGBTQ Pride month, commemorating the Stonewall riots, late 1960s demonstrations that some consider to be the most pivotal moments in the fight for LGBTQ equality and gay liberation in America.
HAPPY PRIDE ?????? pic.twitter.com/YIuiODFzZU
— Will Shepherd (@shep689) June 12, 2016
And while June is all about celebrating the LGBT community, the month has taken a tragic turn. The Pulse shooting is a sobering reminder of the dangers the LGBTQ community faces simply for existing.
It's nearly one year since the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality nationwide, a giant leap forward for LGBTQ equality in the US.
The bathroom wars and the Orlando attacks painfully demonstrate that the community is still very much subject to hate and discrimination in 2016.
Also, "don't politicize this"? Really? You've politicized queer people using bathrooms and having jobs, you can't depoliticize their deaths.
— Amy (@spooloflies) June 12, 2016
I've spent an hour trying to sum up how I feel in 1 tweet. im exhausted. im queer. And we deserve so much more than this. We deserve to live
— Lane Moore (@hellolanemoore) June 12, 2016
In fact, many gay men who hoped to donate blood following the Pulse massacre were banned from doing so because of longstanding guidelines that started in the wake of the AIDS crisis—rules that experts believe are outdated.
So while men and women flocked to blood donation centers in Orlando, many gay men were unable to support their own community. It's worth noting that all blood is screened for HIV and AIDS after it's donated.
When you realize all straight people's blood is screened for AIDS/HIV before being used, this gets more insulting. https://t.co/ksCQptl5Yd
— Kibble Boy (@KivaBay) June 13, 2016
Hate groups and bigots are applauding the shooting
A small but vocal group of homophobes are applauding Omar Mateen's actions.
Notorious hate group the Westboro Baptist Church sent out a sickening message after news of the shooting broke: "God sent the shooter."
Many Christians and Muslims have loudly denounced homophobia and the Pulse attacks
The attack on gay Americans in Orlando was an act of bigotry and terror that Christians reject as antithetical to our faith.
— Ralph Reed (@ralphreed) June 12, 2016
I'm so proud to be apart of a multicultural Christian church that prays for those who need help and support no matter who they are #Orlando
— Kelsie Stevens (@keltronnn) June 12, 2016
I'm a straight white christian male. I would gladly donate blood to the LGBT community right now because we are here together. #Orlando
— Eugene Capon (@CaponDesign) June 12, 2016
— CremeDeLaCrews (@CremeDeLaCrews) June 12, 2016
As a Christian woman, I'm still saying pray for Orlando! No one deserves to lose their life over gun violence and hatred. ????????
— Uncle Sam (@SkinTanHairLong) June 12, 2016
As a man of God, a follower of Jesus, and as a Christian, my heart is broken by the mass assassination of gays today in #Orlando. I'm sorry.
— Rev. Stephen M Leach (@revstephenleach) June 12, 2016
millions of my Muslim sisters & brothers are queer & millions more of us believe in equality
this scumbag & his bullets don't speak for us
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) June 13, 2016
I'm gay and Muslim. I want to tell the Muslim community the Islamophobia being spewed now doesn't reflect my values as a gay man. #Orlando
— Shawn Ahmed (@uncultured) June 12, 2016
— Abdullah (@a_istanbulluogl) June 12, 2016
I'm a Muslim. I respect people's right to fulfill their lives peacefully. I stand in solidarity with #Orlando. Everyone deserves to live.
— Maria Munir (they) (@Maria_Munir) June 12, 2016
— Amanda Quraishi (@ImTheQ) June 12, 2016
I'm a Muslim. This is wrong. Your community doesn't deserve this. This is horrific. #orlando
— Jawaad Ahmad Khan (@JawaadAhmadKhan) June 12, 2016
Are some politicians being hypocritical?
Basically, if you're a politician who took money from the NRA and/or has been active in anti-LGBT lawmaking, stop tweeting today.
— Txnewsprincess (@txnewsprincess) June 12, 2016
Some are pointing out a clear disconnect: some politicians who are offering their thoughts and prayers have refused to support measures designed to reduce gun violence.
you signed more pro-gun bills into law in 1 TERM than any Governor in Florida history. this blood is on your hands. https://t.co/TkkPLTQAJg
— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) June 12, 2016
.@KellyAyotte voted against expanding background checks after Newtown.
Now she's back to just thinking & praying https://t.co/7ofKPwholg
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) June 12, 2016
Especially damning are criticisms of politicians who have taken intolerant stances on the LGBTQ community in the past, and who now voice support in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
Shoutout to pro-gun Republicans who took a break from passing anti-LGBT laws to offer thoughts and prayers to LGBT victims of gun violence.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) June 12, 2016
In 2016 I still feel unsafe holding my partners hand sometimes. The GOP created this homophobia, and now blood is on their hands..#Orlando
— Heather Matarazzo (@HeatherMatarazz) June 12, 2016
...says Christian extremist, anti-LGBT politician who used "divide & conquer" as the basis of his miserable career. https://t.co/ln9E6IHBhB
— BadgerStew (@BadgerStew) June 12, 2016
But for the most part, the US (and the world) is uniting in grief
And so we marched with love, with compassion, with solidarity. Hate and fear cannot win. pic.twitter.com/sNfMKKuenu
— Jordan Shalhoub (@jordLS) June 12, 2016
Many organizations have denounced Saturday's attacks, from the Vatican to the Council on American-Islamic relations. There has been an outpouring of support from coast to coast.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 13, 2016
Buildings and monuments were lit with rainbow colors, the colors of the LGBTQ community.
— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) June 13, 2016
The Empire State building went dark in a display of mourning.
Tributes to the victims have begun
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 13, 2016
Among those killed were Juan Ramon Guerrero, who had only just come out to his family. And Luis Vielma, who worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 13, 2016
Now, dozens of families have been ripped apart by gun violence and hate.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 13, 2016
A more comprehensive list of victims can be found here.
They hate us because they know we're magic and it terrifies them, but being gay is an extraordinary gift. Shine brighter today
— Sam Lansky (@samlansky) June 12, 2016
There's a lot of talk about how "love will always win"
In the words of Grammy winner and Broadway star du jour Lin-Manuel Miranda:
"Love is love is love is love is love."
We are not just gay, lesbian, bi, trans, etc. We are all gifted human beings that have a lot to offer a world who dehumanizes us #LoveIsLove
— Christy (@agrandegiggles) June 12, 2016
Here are 7 ways you can take action:
Clementine is a graduate of Mount Holyoke, where she studied English and French. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, the New York Observer, USA Today, BUST, and Odyssey. Clementine is an undercover short story writer, and in her spare time she’s on a quest to craft the perfect tweet.