by Tommi Avicolli Mecca
While his fellow journalists were stirring up anti-Moslem sentiments with their inflammatory comments about the Orlando mass murderer’s possible connection to ISIS, CNN’s Cooper Anderson, who is openly gay, cut to the chase in his interview with Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General.
He told her that many LGBT folks in the state saw her as a hypocrite for fighting for years against gay marriage and then trying to portray herself as a friend to the community after the horrific attack at the popular Pulse gay nightclub that left 49 folks dead, most of them queer and Latino.
Anderson noted how ironic it was that the partners of the injured queer victims would not have been able to be with them at the hospital or to access info about their condition without the gay marriage statute she opposed and which the court eventually upheld.
Anderson wasn’t trying to be sensationalist. He understood something that other journalists completely missed.
The reality is that the Orlando mass shooting is the most deadly anti-queer and anti-transgender act of violence in this country’s history, second only to the arson fire in a New Orleans gay bar in 1973 that claimed 32 lives.
It happened because of the entrenched homophobia/transphobia that persists in this culture, despite the many gains of the LGBT movement. Families still ostracize queer and transgender youth, forcing them, in many cases, to leave home. Schools do nothing about the bullying of students perceived as LGBT, allowing them to be tormented day after day, sometimes to the point of suicide.
Legislatures routinely pass anti-gay and anti-transgender laws that restrict our right even to use the bathroom. According to ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio, over 200 anti-gay and anti-transgender bills have been introduced throughout this country in the past six months alone. They’re supported by the Christian Right.
A Christian Right that lost no time in revealing just how much a part of the problem it really is.
CBS News Sacramento reports that, just hours after the tragedy in Orlando, pastor Roger Jimenez, a Baptist minister, told his congregants: “Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um — no — I think that’s great! I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida is a little safer tonight.”
Christianity is not the only religion that condemns queers. Most religions do. They’re all complicit in spreading the homophobia that apparently Mateen suffered from, a homophobia (possibly internalized) that Noor Zahi Salman, Mateen’s wife, acknowledged after the tragedy unfolded.
“I started noticing in his emotional instability,” she told ABC News, “he would express his anger towards (a) certain culture, homosexuality, because in…Islamic culture, it is really not tolerated, homosexuality, and I know at the time he was trying to get his life straight and follow his faith. I guess that created some confusion between that, and there was definitely moments that he would express his intolerance to homosexuals.”
An intolerance also expressed by Omar's father, Seddique Mir Mateen: "God will punish those involved with homosexuality."
Why couldn’t the media just say “homophobic and transphobic attack” as loudly as it said “radical Islamic terrorism” when it wasn’t even clear that Mateen had any connection to ISIS? Why are there still stories that don’t make it clear that this was, in the words of President Obama, “an attack on the LGBT community,” and the LGBT Latino community?
Another example of the persistent homophobia that won’t even let the media name what has happened to us as an LGBT community.