For a while, I was writing about my post-surgery life. But, in time, there was less and less to say about that, so I found myself writing about various transgender--and LGB--issues. Too ofen, they involved malicious, discriminatory acts of violence (mentally and legally as well as physically) against us. Perhaps I don't have as strong a constitution as I thought I had, for I could only write about such things so much, and for so long. And I have never had any interest in turning this into a blog about academic gender studies.
Lately, though, I can't help but to notice the violence against LGBT people. I don't know whether there's been more of it lately, or whether it's receiving more notice--which is to say that people are recognizing that we are being victimized for being who we are.
That is what happened to 50 people in the Pulse nightclub. Though my days of going to bars and clubs are long past, and I am not as immersed in the LGBT milieu as I one was, I'd heard of it: It seems to be one of the gay destinations in Orlando, Florida. Thus, it seems like a logical (if I might use that word) target for someone like Omar Mateen, who was "repulsed by the gay lifestyle" according to media reports.
"The gay lifestyle": Did he actually say that? If he did, I'm amazed that, at this late date, the media still uses it without attributing it to him. If they were not directly quoting him, it shows that they are just as misinformed, if not prejudiced, as he was. Being gay--or lesbian or trans--is no more a "lifestyle" than being Muslim or black or handicapped. A lifestyle implies choice; no one has ever chosen to be gay or transgendered, though we may indeed make the choice to follow our innate selves.
Also, while Mateen may well have been an ISIS sympathizer or whatever, it's hard to imagine that it was his primary motive for going into a crowded nightclub and opening fire. First of all, ISIS-type terrorists usually choose larger, more public venues. Second, he was described as "self-radicalized". It's hard to understand why, if he indeed sympathised with ISIS or any other large organization, he would carry out a mass murder-suicide mission in their name without their help. Even if he were, as some say, "crazy", it's hard to understand why he would make such a choice.
But, I fear, the real reason why law enforcement authorities and the media want to pursue the ISIS angle--to the extent that it exists--is that they can justify throwing more resources at investigating it, and carrying out other kinds of surveillance, than they could for investigating this tragedy as just a hate crime. I mean, they will take something more seriously if it involves geopolitics than if it involved "just a bunch of gays out drinking and dancing". Oh, should I add that most of the victims were Latinos?
Anyway...I can only imagine how the loved ones of those who died, and those who could in the coming days, must feel. Which is the reason why it makes me sick to hear what we always hear after mass murders and other horrific crimes and tragedies: "Our thoughts and prayers are with them."
Fuck thoughts and prayers. They never prevented anything like this or helped anyone who had to pick up the pieces afterward. What we need is to keep folks like Omar Mateen from getting the weapons that enable them to commit such atrocities. (He was in Florida, where one can walk into a Wal Mart and buy a gun almost as easily as one can buy a fishing reel.) He bought his weaponry just days before he walked into the Pulse: enough time for a background check that could have revealed, for example, that he beat his ex-wife. Also, it might have raised questions as to why he, who wore police garb whenever he could and wanted so badly to becoe a cop, never became one. Did he reply, and was he rejected because of psychological issues?
Mourn the victims. Give the families and friends the resources they need to help them move on with their lives, to the degree that is possible. And keep assault weapons away people like Omar Mateen. Fuck thoughts and prayers: Neither our high-mindedness nor God will solve anything that we won't solve for ourselves.