Thursday, June 16, 2016

Multiple Claims Suggest That Orlando Killer Was Also a Victim of Homophobia – His Own

6/22/16 (Off-site) Update:
Orlando Massacre Was "Revenge," Not Terrorism:
Man Claiming to Be Omar Mateen’s Lover
Says Mateen Specifically Targeted Gay Latinos

– Emily Crockett (Vox, June 22, 2016)

I don't know about you, but from the initial media reports concerning the June 12 massacre at the Pulse gay night club in Orlando, I figured that the man identified as the gunman, Omar Mateen, was gay.

More than anything else it was the photos of him that set off my gaydar. Many of them are selfies taken in a mirror, featuring poses typical of images found on gay dating and/or hook-up sites. It's subsequently come to light that Mateen was not only a regular at the gay nightclub he attacked, but maintained accounts on multiple gay dating apps.

A recent piece in the New York Post provides a summary of what is currently known about his "gay tendencies."

The ex-wife of Orlando mass killer Omar Mateen claimed Monday that she believed he was homosexual — as it was revealed that he frequented the gay nightclub where he staged the nation’s worst massacre in modern times.

Sitora Yusufiy, who was married to Mateen in 2009 for three months, made the shocking claim on Brazilian television station SBT Brazil.

Her fiancé, Marco Dias, speaking in Portuguese on her behalf, said Yusufiy believed that Mateen had “gay tendencies” and that his father had called him gay in front of her. Dias also claimed “the FBI asked her not to tell this to the American media.”

. . . [Meanwhile, a] former male classmate said he would hang out with Mateen, hitting gay bars after attending class at Indian River Community College police academy in 2006 — and one time Mateen asked him out “romantically,” according to the Palm Beach Post.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate told the paper.

The classmate told the paper he thought the killer, who pledged allegiance to ISIS before killing 49 at the gay nightclub Pulse, was gay and in the closet.

The classmate’s claims came after reports emerged that Mateen frequented the club for years before Sunday’s massacre.

. . . Kevin West, [a] regular at Pulse, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen used gay dating apps on a regular basis and even messaged him on a gay dating app, Jack’d.

He even saw Mateen an hour before the shooting.

“He walked directly past me. I said, ‘Hey,’ and he turned and said, ‘Hey,’ ” and nodded his head, recalled West. “I could tell by the eyes [it was him].”

One Orlando man, who refused to be named, told MSNBC that he had seen photos of Mateen on several gay dating apps, including Grindr, Adam4Adam, and Jack’d. He claimed that at least two of the man’s friends had been contacted by Mateen on the apps in the past.

“He was very creepy in his messages, and I blocked him immediately,” the man said.

What are we to make of all of this?

How does it fit with the initial narrative that the Muslim Mateen was an Islamic terrorist and that his attack on Pulse was an ISIS terrorist strike on a "soft target" that just happened to be a gay nightclub? Who most gains from perpetuating this now questionable narrative?

Why would a gay man brutally murder 49 other LGBTQ people?

The tragic reality of internalized homophobia comes immediately to my mind. But what are others thinking?

Over the past few days a number of well-written and insightful commentaries have been written that seek to explore the implications of the Orlando massacre perpetrator being gay. Following are excerpts from some of these commentaries.

[The fact that Omar Marteen was himself gay] might move the motivation for [his] horrific act to a very different and psychologically more complex place in which one man’s inability to reconcile himself with his sexuality cost 49 other people their lives — and then cost him his own life.

It might end up making the motivation of the horrifying Orlando massacre look more like: I want you. God says I can’t want you. So I must kill you.

And it opens up the broader issue of the severe mental health challenges facing young people who discover, against the stern teachings of their religious traditions, that they are attracted to members of the same sex.

This intersection of religious authority and forbidden sexuality is a very dangerous one, and it must be navigated by all who are raised in religions that reject same-sex attraction and relationships. It is a problem in multiple religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and leaders in all religious traditions face the urgent responsibility to address it.

– David Gushee
Excerpted from "When Forbidden Sexuality
Meets Unchanging Religious Tradition
Religion News Service
June 14, 2016

There is no indication whatever that he coordinated the attack with ISIS, that he had pledged allegiance before the attack, or that he had been in touch with ISIS. ISIS is getting a lot of publicity with no apparent connection to Omar Mateen.

– Ali H. Soufan, former counterterrorism agent for the FBI
Quoted in Robert Mackey's article,
"Despite Orlando Killer’s Desire to Glorify ISIS,
Discussion Moves on to His Sexuality
The Intercept
June 14, 2016

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation tried to "lure" Orlando shooter Omar Mateen into committing a terror plot in 2013 through the planting of an informant in his life, revelations that raise serious questions about the FBI's indirect role in shaping the recent Orlando terror attack through its entrapment policies. . . . The latest revelations come as the FBI is facing questions over telling Mateen’s former wife not to tell U.S. media he could have possibly been gay, raising question about the FBI’s intent to maintain the "Islamist terrorism" narrative instead of a possible personal motive.

– Excerpted from "FBI Tried to Lure Orlando Shooter
Into a Terror Plot in 2013
June 19, 2016

Many are confused by [the thought of Mateen himself being gay and killing other LGBT people]. Why would he do this? Isn’t it easier to come out today? We may never know. Studies have shown that men who repress their homosexuality due to authoritarian fears can create tremendous homophobic violent outbursts. Instead of attacking what oppresses them, they attack what they fear will betray them. They fill up with a deadly obedience. If Mateen was closeted, out of fear, he made a little more of the world he feared when he opened fire that day.

– Alexander Chee
Excerpted from "The Courage of Being Queer"
New Republic
June 14, 2016

If Mateen turns out to have been repressing his sexuality, that makes the attack more about homophobia, not less. Now what we have is not a gay-hating radical Islamist but a self-hating gay man who found in Islamist ideology a way to express his animus at everyone and everything.

Nor is this unique to Islam. When Christian fundamentalist Ted Haggard preached vitriolic sermons against homosexuality, it was because of—not despite—his furtive sex dates with a drug-dealing gay masseur. When former senator Larry Craig inveighed against the evils of equality, it was because of—not despite—his own shame around soliciting men for sex in public restrooms.

That is why study after study has shown that the more homophobic one is, the more likely one is to have repressed homosexual desires. If you’re battling your demons in private, you’re going to battle them in public too.

It is also why repressed gay people seek out fundamentalist religion in the first place.

– Jay Michaelson
Excerpted from "If Omar Mateen Was Gay,
It Makes His LGBT Nightclub Attack More Homophobic
The Daily Beast
June 15, 2016

Within hours of the news spreading that there had been a massacre at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it became clear that conservatives needed to minimize the possibility that this was the anti-gay hate crime that it looked like. Republican pundits and politicians got to work trying to imply the choice of a target was unimportant or arbitrary, refusing to acknowledge that Pulse was a gay bar or that most of the victims were queer.

The move, while cynical, makes sense. If Republicans can trick people into thinking this was some kind of generic Islamic assault on the West, then they can run the terrorists-are-coming-for-you script that has worked so well for them politically in the past. But to admit that it might have been Omar Mateen’s anti-gay beliefs that motivated this this is political poison.

After all, it’s not just fundamentalist Islam that is anti-gay. Fundamentalist Christianity is, too, and if anti-gay religious teachings can cause a Muslim to reach for his gun, they can surely do the same to a Christian. Indeed, hate crimes against LGBT people are common in this country, and most of them are not being committed by Muslims.

. . . [A]ny lingering possibility that Pulse was randomly chosen as a target by Mateen is falling apart. Early reports from his father and ex-wife indicate he was homophobic. Now there’s evidence that the problem ran much deeper than that. Multiple people from the Orlando area are stepping forward to say that Mateen was a regular at Pulse and that they interacted with him on gay dating apps like Grindr and Jack’d.

. . . [A]ll this evidence points strongly to the possibility that Mateen had some self-loathing issues going on that he projected onto men who lived more unapologetically queer lives. Add to it the multiple reports about him being awkward and disliked by others, especially gay men who encountered him, and a picture starts to build of someone who was acting on his sexual resentments more than someone who had some well-articulated devotion to the ISIS caliphate.

No matter what the shooter’s sexuality might have been, we should take this opportunity to once again turn our attention to the dangers and devastation of the closet and band together to explode it once and for all. To anyone who can come out, I humbly suggest you do exactly that. To anyone who is out or loves someone who is or comes out, offer your support.

Homophobia — internalized or otherwise — is a product of a society that teaches and prizes fear, shame and secrecy in regards to queer identities and coming out instantaneously exorcizes all three of those soul-sucking demons. The sooner we all stand up and say, “this is exactly who I am — and what?” the sooner we change the way we collectively understand what it means to be — and who might be — queer, the sooner we begin to vanquish the bigotry leveled against queer people, especially if that bigotry is inspired by one’s own (however clandestine or unrealized) sexuality.

– Noah Michelson
Excerpted from "What Do We Do If the Orlando Shooter Really Was Gay?"
The Huffington Post
June 15, 2016

[In one article] Mateen's father, Seddique, who has made numerous anti-gay statements, dismissed suggestions that his son was gay, saying: "If he was gay, why would he do something like this?"

But Seddique's statement is not at all hard to answer. Some of the most violently homophobic men in the world are men who sense that they are gay, but have been raised in repressive religious environments by brutal fathers who knock women about and threaten gay men. When men raised this way begin to sense that they themselves may be gay, they often react with terrible violence to the other gay men who "entice" them, as they imagine, who tempt them to act on their gay impulses. And they use religion as a justification for their violence — because they were raised by their fathers to do this.

William D. Lindsey
via Facebook
June 15, 2016

[First it was a terrorist attack, plain and simple, because the killer had a Muslim background and pledged allegiance to Islamic State. Politicians like this lens, and both Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump agree on it. Their policy solutions might look different, but they aren’t really: Clinton wants to demonize Muslims abroad so we can justify dropping more bombs on them, while Trump wants to demonize Muslims here at home so he can justify banning their entry into the U.S.

But then we heard more details that just didn’t fit with this simplistic narrative. Omar Mateen, the shooter, was an employee of G4S, a global security firm with a reputation for employing racist staff. He was an American born of Afghan immigrants and had been investigated by the FBI twice before and cleared of suspicion. He had some admiration for the New York Police Department as evidenced by selfies he took while wearing NYPD shirts. He was a regular at Pulse, the gay bar where he carried out the horrific massacre. He even had briefly used a gay dating app. But his father said he was a homophobe who was once enraged at the sight of two men kissing. He beat his ex-wife. He was married to another woman at the time of the shooting and had a 3-year-old child with her. His current wife might have been an accomplice to the shooting. He obtained his weapons legally and appeared cool and collected during the massacre.

This story is so complex, with so many layers, that it does not fit within our black-and-white media and political narrative. CNN and Clinton would like this to be a straightforward story: a Muslim-American man was radicalized by Islamic State and carried out a terrorist attack. But Mateen does not fit into the reductive profiles we have built of would-be terrorists.

. . . [W]e need to open our eyes to the similarity of extremist beliefs among fundamentalists. Islamic State gleefully took credit for the Orlando massacre (although U.S. authorities have no evidence the attack was directed from an external source). Islamic State has built its bloody reputation in part on the brutal persecution of LGBT Arabs. Hate-filled anti-gay rhetoric emanates from Western extremist religious groups as well, uniting Christian and Muslim fundamentalists in their homophobia. The rest of us ought to be united, regardless of our racial, religious, gender identity or sexual orientation, in seeing each other as human beings composed of myriad and complex layers. It is the best antidote to propaganda and the push for war, votes and ratings.

– Sonali Kolhatkar
Excerpted from "Making Sense of Orlando
June 16, 2016

Just as the initial coverage might have been marred by a rush to describe the killer’s motives as fitting neatly into the single category of terrorist attack, as more information comes out, there is a risk of over-correction — ascribing the rampage solely to rumors of his repressed sexuality and ignoring the fact that the threat from ISIS has mutated now that the group has used the web to encourage attacks by sympathizers in far-flung locations.

That Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State in his calls to the police — and also said that “America needs to stop bombing ISIS in Syria,” according to a survivor of the hostage siege who overheard the conversation — suggests that he was at least aware of the militant group’s directions for carrying out such attacks. (The FBI reopened an investigation into Mateen in 2014 after an acquaintance said that Mateen had mentioned watching video sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. In one of his sermons, Awlaki had argued that the killing of Americans by Muslims required no special sanction.)

On Monday night in France, another attacker who appears to have been inspired rather than directed by ISIS, made sure to dedicate the killing of a French police officer and his partner to the militant group in a chilling video streamed live on Facebook.

. . . As simplistic recipes for tackling such violence are being offered, it seems vital to instead embrace the complexity of each individual narrative that leads to an atrocity.

Online, as Charlie Winter [a senior research associate at Georgia State University’s Transcultural Conflict and Violence Initiative] noted, ISIS supporters “are being quite vocal that they want this to be an act of terrorism” motivated by U.S. foreign policy, and they are seeking to downplay the clearly homophobic nature of the violence.

By initially taking the troubled and confused Mateen at his word, and focusing so much attention on what he reportedly said in his phone calls to the police during the attack, Winter suggested that the media, investigators, and politicians had helped frame his shooting spree as part of a political struggle. “That was absolutely what he wanted to happen and that completely changed how the attack was framed and how the attack’s going to be understood,” Winter said.

– Robert Mackey
Excerpted from "Despite Orlando Killer’s Desire to Glorify ISIS,
Discussion Moves on to His Sexuality
The Intercept
June 14, 2016

[Omar Marteen] pledged allegiance to Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda AND ISIS, three organizations that are de facto at war with each other, showing he was ignorant about all three, let alone politics in the Middle East in general.

He knew practically nothing about Islam and according to his wife, father and community he was not religious in the slightest.

He struggled with his toxic masculinity, had an alcohol problem and beat up his wife for which he was never charged.

He was racist towards Blacks, Latin@’s and other minorities and in the shooting killed predominantly queer people of color.

Despite his own alleged queer inclinations, he was a homophobe in a country where still 1 in 5 LGBTQ people are victims of hate crimes and there are more than a 100 anti-LGBTQ bills (from anti-gay marriage to bathroom bills) pending in dozens of states.

. . . He staged a mass shooting in a country that has seen a 1,000 mass shootings in the last 1,200 days.

So basically he was ignorant, self-conflicted, racist, sexist, homophobic, had a sick admiration for authority, and was obsessed with guns and violence, eventually acting upon all of that.

Sorry folks, but your supposed “Islamic radical terrorist from Afghanistan” is as American as apple pie made with homegrown apples and baked in an American-made oven.

– Che Brandes-Tuka
Quoted in Zach Cartwright's article,
"The Shortest and Most Powerful Explanation
of the Orlando Shooter I Have Ever Seen
U.S. Uncut
June 14, 2016

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
"I Pray, I Pray"
Quote of the Day – June 12, 2016
Two Powerful Calls for the Catholic Hierarchy to Fully Acknowledge the LGBT Victims of Anti-LGBT Violence
Quote of the Day – June 13, 2016
Homophobia? It's So Gay
The Tragedy of Homophobia
The Blood-Soaked Thread

Related Off-site Links:
This is What Homophobia Feels Like – James Michael Nichols (HuffPost Queer Voices, June 17, 2016).
Don't Let Act of Homophobia Become Excuse for Islamophobia – T.C. Morrow (The Hill, June 16, 2016).
Grieving the Orlando Massacre – Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun, June 16, 2016).

UPDATES: Orlando Massacre Was "Revenge," Not Terrorism, Says Man Who Claims He Was Gunman's LoverUnivision, June 21, 2016).
Omar Mateen's Alleged Male Lover: "He Did It for Revenge" Against Latino MenCBS New York, June 21, 2016).
Entire Orlando Massacre Motive Was Misunderstood, Shooter's Lover Comes Forward To Reveal All – Sarah MacManus (Bipartisan Report, June 22, 2016).
FBI Investigators Say They Have Found No Evidence That Orlando Shooter Had Gay Lovers – Molly Hennessy-Fiske (Los Angeles Times via Miami Herald, June 23, 2016).
Pulse Nightclub Will Become a Permanent Memorial to Victims of Orlando Massacre – James Michael Nichols (The Huffington Post, July 27, 2016).
Orlando Killer Omar Mateen Shot Victims More Than 200 Times in 20 Minutes – Justin Glawe (The Daily Beast, August 9, 2016).

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