June is LGBTQ pride month and parades and festivities abound month-long. Pride 2016 is particularly important because it marks the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
Boston Pride was last week with its signature Pride Parade extravaganza on Saturday. Come Sunday morning I woke up to the devastating news of the Orlando club massacre where the gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49, and injured 53 LGBTQ revelers and allies who just happened to be patrons at Pulse on its most popular club night, which is Latin Night.
Pulse, like most LGBTQ nightclubs across the country, was more than just a place to dance and drink. Nightclubs function as multiple sites for the LGBTQ community where we can commune and have community away from the glaring and disapproving eyes of family, church and society, even in 2016.
But when LGBTQs are in the glaring or disapproving eyes of homophobes, we don’t take for granted that the reprisal acted on us didn’t derive from a momentary glance that has now come back to harm us or someone in our community — even if the murderer, like Mateen, was either gay-curious for himself or gay-cruising for the kill for Isis.
In explaining the probable reason for the carnage his son created, Mateen’s father, Mir Seddique, shared with news media an incident in Miami months before the nightclub shooting where his son witnessed two gay males kissing that repulsed and outraged him, especially since it was done in the presence of both his wife and son.
Also, in trying to deflect attention away from Islamophobes, who easily blame everything disapproving a Muslim does on the religion, Mir Seddique flat out stated that his son’s attack had nothing to do with religion. And, Muslim groups worldwide followed suit in condemning the act.
Anti-gay theology is not particular to Islam. While the Quran has scriptures condemning homosexuality so, too, does the Christian Bible.
For example, although the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, many Republicans still think marriage should be between one woman and one man, because somewhere in their scriptures or holy imagination it says marriage is between “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Their opposition to last June’s Supreme Court decision wasn’t as hatefully demonstrative and obstructively cynical as that of Kim Davis, the now infamous Kentucky County clerk who not only refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples but she also forbade her coworkers to do so, too.
As a born again Christian, Davis cited that her First Amendment rights protected her actions. And with a movement afoot with bills called “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” (RFRA), looking to codify LGBTQ discrimination, Christianity doesn’t get a pass either.
“There’s such a cognitive dissonance for me when public officials ask us to pray when the majority of world religions promote anti-LGBT theology,” said Eliel Cruz, executive director of Faith in America, an organization that attempts to end the harm to LBGT youths it says is caused by religious teachings. “This isn’t isolated to Muslim beliefs. It’s seen in Christianity and it’s just as deadly,” added Cruz, a former Religion News Service columnist.
There’s a sundry of intersectional and confounding factors that appear to attribute to Mateen’s murderous act — mental illness, homophobia, fear of coming out, anti-gay theology, and no doubt his allegiance to Isis, to name a few. Sadly, we can’t change the hearts of people like Mateen as quickly as we would like to. However, we can change their behavior, or at least make them accountable for their behavior with laws in place to protect not only themselves but also the American citizenry.
G.O.P. presidential hopeful Donald Trump calls for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. in the wake of this recent shooting, which is absurd, especially in light of the fact that Mateen was born here. Gun reform continues to be that hot-button issue that, as a country, we can’t seem to budge on. And, recent polling suggests support for reform continues to decline.
Aside from the two handguns Mateen had on his person, he also had an AR-15, the same semiautomatic rifle used during the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in 2012, and the December holiday party in San Bernardino in 2015.
In the U.S., recent gun data illustrates there are 88 guns per 100 people. In Yemen, deemed as a terrorist county, the data shows there are 55 guns per 100 people. Just one day after the Orlando shooting, Smith & Wesson, one of the largest gun manufacturers in the country, founded in 1852 in Springfield, MA, had a seven percent rise in their stock shares.
Obama has attended 19 of these mass shootings since his tenure as president. His twentieth was aborted the same day as the Orlando shooting when Santa Monica police stopped a man with weapons heading to an L.A. gay pride parade.
Rev. Irene Monroe is a Huffington Post blogger and freelance journalist.
Rev. Irene Monroe is an African American lesbian feminist public theologian, sought-after speaker, and preacher.