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I don't usually do reactive posts, but I can't really not react to this. What happened in Orlando this weekend was the biggest mass shooting in recent American history - and it happened to 50 queer people - predominantly queer people of colour. Not only did the shooting happen in a queer bar - a "safe" space for the LGBTQ+ community, but it was Latinx night. Yet all over the web the attacker has been branded "crazy", "mad", "psychotic", and newspapers boast headlines like "Isil wages war on gays in west" (The Daily Telegraph). I think we're missing the point here.
I'm only going to repeat what many queer people are saying in this blog. This shooting is not an excuse to:
- Defend Islamophobia.
- Stigmatise the mentally ill.
It is an atrocity - a hate crime. And it needs to be called out for what it is. But as usual, instead of standing in solidarity with those affected, the media continues to use the suffering of minorities to further their own, anti-islamaphobic, racist agenda and to stigmatise the mentally ill.
According to the FBI, between 1980 and 2005, 94% of terrorist attacks in the USA were by non-Muslims. And according to the Daily Beast, between 2010 and 2015, less than 2% of terrorist attacks committed across Europe were committed by Muslims. And to use mental health as a excuse for murder is disgusting - especially considering queer people are 3 times more likely to experience mental health difficulties. But I shouldn't even have to be quoting these facts - because this attack was not about Islam or mental health.
The killer was not "crazy" and his religion is irrelevant. He was a homophobic man committing a homophobic hate crime. It wasn't anything other than a pure act of hatred.
My thoughts are with those who passed on Saturday night and their loved ones who are in mourning. My thoughts are also with those who are injured and hospitalised, who can't even get the blood they need because of bullshit laws over gay men donating blood. I am sending all the love and solidarity I can muster, not that it can help.
This world is a scary place to be LGBTQ+, particularly for those who identify as QTIPOC. All we can do now is take time to mourn - and then pick up the fight. Let's stand together for all the queer people in history who died too soon at the hands of prejudice.
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This is a post that will be updated as we know more about the victims. Say their names.