Orlando. My hometown. The queer community. My community.
I read the news too early this morning and immediately, I knew this hate. This fear, distrust, complete lack of understanding for another human’s culture, lifestyle, very being. We have all seen this again and again and again, this dehumanization and negation of our right to be as we are, to live.
I knew this hate. I have seen it in churches across the country, expounded by politicians, perpetuated by the media, reiterated by strangers and family. It is a complete lack of empathy, of sympathy, of understanding. It is blindness and ignorance and a certain amount of self-loathing.
I read the news too early this morning. I assumed the shooter was a white man, erroneously claiming to be Christian. After all, that is the face this hatred has worn so often in the past. Yet despite this history, I have never blamed all Christians for this hate. I know it’s a large, nuanced religion, and that many many Christians reject that hate.
The shooter was not a white man, was not a Christian. He was Muslim. And already the news is spinning, a fresh hatred brewing, spitting out Islamophobia in undigested, conspicuous chunks. Give it another day and that fear will weave through every sentence, support every headline. As if this hatred were new. As if this hatred could be contained by one religion.
I know this hate. It pervades our society. It pervades all societies. It will not be tempered by hating one group, by fearing one religion. This is not a religious problem. This is a human problem. It is a problem of ignorance and disrespect and dehumanization.
It should not have to be said, but as part of the queer community I refuse to perpetuate Islamophobia in the wake of this attack. I know this hate, and it is not Muslim, just as it is not Christian. We will never win against it by turning hate back onto an entire community. That hatred, that fear, that ignorance, is at the very root of this massacre. It is the same hate.
I reject this hate. Our queer community rejects this hate. And we will continue to do what we’ve always done in the face of hate: we will continue to live and we will continue to love.