I started my world pool links post, and it started getting awfully long. So I decided to pull the posts relating into last weekend’s massacre in Orlando, Florida, at Pulse Nightclub, into a separate post. I’m a lesbian, and this had an enormous impact on me. I think it deserves to stand alone.
Pulse Nightclub, Orlando, Florida: June 12, 2016
There’s an enormous amount of media attention toward this event. I’m not going to try to post links to everything.
To begin with, a link to a list of the victims, because they’re important. They are real people with real stories, and they died. I post this link knowing that some of those killed or injured may have been outed by the violence done against them.
Rachel Giese: Orlando shooting: Intolerance and anti-gay rhetoric play a role in violence “What did those determined to deny LGBT people rights and dignity imagine would happen? When you gin up hate and fear towards a particular group of people, when you call them deviant and predatory, when you say their relationships are less worthy of respect and protection, it doesn’t exist in isolation. That hate has an impact. It makes violence towards LGBT people much more likely.”
A shorter version of the same message: You weren’t the gunman, but
Miriam Zoila Pérez: When the One Place That Feels Like Home is Invaded “I’m not sure I can explain just how earth shattering in a small slice of a community that is already small, the death of 49, the wounding of 53 more, and the traumatizing of the other 200 at the club will be. Being queer and Latinx in the U.S. sometimes feels like it can be impossible to find our people. And now tragedy has found us.”
Justin Torres: In praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club “Outside, there’s a world that politicizes every aspect of your identity. There are preachers, of multiple faiths, mostly self-identified Christians, condemning you to hell. Outside, they call you an abomination. Outside, there is a news media that acts as if there are two sides to a debate over trans people using public bathrooms. Outside, there is a presidential candidate who has built a platform on erecting a wall between the United States and Mexico — and not only do people believe that crap is possible, they believe it is necessary. Outside, Puerto Rico is still a colony, being allowed to drown in debt, to suffer, without the right to file for bankruptcy, to protect itself. Outside, there are more than 100 bills targeting you, your choices, your people, pending in various states. But inside, it is loud and sexy and on.”
Malinda Lo: In the Club. “As a lesbian adult, that’s what going to queer bars and clubs meant to me. They were spaces where I spoke the language. I was accepted as family. They were places of joy; they were places of freedom. They were crucibles of emotion — pulsing, music-filled rooms where we were encouraged to feel everything. They were spaces full of drama, rooms ripe with possibility. For many people in the gay community, gay clubs are our living rooms and our sanctuaries; they are the places we meet the people we love, and the spaces where we find ourselves.”
Sometimes people don’t know what to do, what to say, until someone gives them a way to do it. Be sure to read the entire post by Kelly Davis Karas.
The erasure of the LGBTQ experience of this event is important. Too many people prefer to ignore that part of it in favour of furthering a particular political agenda of demonizing Muslims. But that focus erases an important part of the crime. It erases the fact that LGBTQ people were specifically targeted. It erases the inherent racism of a crime in which the victims were primarily non-white: a Latin night with primarily Latinx and black victims. It erases the fact that there are Muslim LGBTQ people.
The killer CHOSE to attack a gay nightclub and to do so on that night. This was not random.
“But this isn’t a moment for identity politics, which could muddle the significance of the carnage.” Maybe not to you, asshole.
A particularly egregious example of erasure happened in a Sky News interview. Owen Jones, a Guardian columnist, had evidently been asked to participate in a discussion about the massacre. Partway through the discussion between himself, host Mark Longhurst, and Julia Hartley-Brewer, he unfastened his mic and walked out.
Why did Jones walk out? Well, he explains that for himself (you can find the video here as well, and here’s a post that transcribed what was said), but the reasons were jaw-droppingly clear to me when I watched the video.
When Jones emphasized that this was not random, but an attack on LGBT people, Longhurst said: “It’s something that’s carried out against human beings, isn’t it, no matter what they—let’s just make this point—on the freedom of all people to try and enjoy themselves [as the Paris attacks were].
Jones: You don’t understand this because you’re not gay, okay, so just listen—
Longhurst: Whether I’m gay or not has no reflection—
Hartley-Brewer: I don’t think that you have ownership of horror of this crime.
And then, a little later in the discussion, Hartley-Brewer said: “It’s a hate crime, this is an act of terrorism, it was an attack on gay people, absolutely, it was horrific. However, [my emphasis] my mind guesses this man probably would be as horrified by me as a gobby woman as he would – genuinely, genuinely – this is the thing. We don’t know right now. We can speculate, but we don’t know how much of this is motivated by just his homophobia.”
I swear, I have never seen such nakedly dismissive handwaving of the implications of the choice of a target, such an erasure of reality in the interests of what I have to assume is a desire to fit a political viewpoint and centre straight white people in the narrative.
This is what erasure looks like in action.
And they clearly cannot understand why this is a problem (or don’t want to). Here’s what Julia Hartley-Brewer had to say about it afterwards. I guess she really didn’t like being called on her bullshit or having someone go off-message. It’s a spectacular snapshot of outraged privilege.
Talk about reframing things to centre herself and make herself look better and someone else look worse. Gawd. I could go through it point by point and explain what’s wrong, but really, I’d be dissecting every line and I’m sure it’s all pretty self-evident to everyone but her, so why bother? But I will add a trigger warning for content that is patronizing, self-centring, insulting, abusive, hyperbolic, and generally vituperative and vile. Compare the video clip to her diatribe if you’ve got the stomach for it.
I live a very privileged, safe life too. But this could have happened to me. These things can happen to any of us who identify as LGBTQ. They have always happened, if not on this scale. They still happen, particularly if you are trans and/or non-white (tw misgendering).
“We all share your sorrow! It could have been any of us, because it’s really about Muslims against those who value freedom!” No, it couldn’t. These LGBTQ people died because someone hated them for what they were. That is relevant.