By Arjun Raj
I can't stop thinking about how many of the Orlando shooting victims might have been in the closet. And their parents, family, and friends came to know about them after they were shot dead in a gay bar. I can't imagine what those families must be going through right now. The regrets. The self-blame.
And for the victims who were out and proud, one first responder who was at the scene said that all he could hear were the sounds of cell phones ringing when he walked into the bar. Cell phones on all those dead bodies. Their friends and family trying to reach them to know they were okay.
In the days that followed, everyone had someone or something to blame. Everyone tried to shape the narrative to fit their own agendas. For the conservatives, it was a confusing situation. Someone from a religion they hate killed a group of people they hate. Now they can't show sympathy towards the killer because he's a Muslim. They can't show sympathy towards the victims because they were LGBTQ+. So they ignored the LGBTQ+ side of the victims. It was just a group of HUMANS killed by a Muslim! Notice they didn't say "killed by another human" because the identity of the killer was important to their agenda. They wanted everyone to know it wasn't a homophobic hate crime; it was just another terrorist attack by the damn "Muslims".
For the liberals too, it was confusing and difficult. They can't blame the Muslims because it'll lead to more Islamophobia and the world has more than enough of that, innocent people blamed for the crimes of some psychopaths. So they blamed the guns and homophobia, ignoring the fact that a religious ideology is also responsible for it.
When I heard about the 2012 Sandyhook elementary school shooting, where 20 children aged between 6 and 7 years old were shot dead, I thought maybe that was it. Americans will finally take a look at their ridiculous gun laws, but no. Even the dead bodies of six-year-olds couldn't make them realize that. So I don't expect a pile of dead gays to do it. No, Americans are NOT going to get rid of their gun obsession any time soon.
So it leaves us with homophobia and religious hatred. Everyone ignoring the fact that this is a homophobic crime is contributing the problem and has something in common with the shooter. About religious hatred, as much as I understand and accept the fact that innocent people shouldn't be blamed or held responsible for the actions of terrorists, I do think that they themselves should speak up more.
Whenever there is a terrorist attack by Islamic terrorists, the first thing I see, all over social media are people -- Muslims and others -- trying to explain that Islam didn't do this, Islam is a religion of peace etc. Everyone is so busy defending Islam that they fail to acknowledge the fact that maybe, just maybe, certain ideologies of that religion might be responsible.
I think everyone might have had that thought at least once. But they are too scared to say it because then it'll mean they are like those crazy conservatives driven by hatred and bigotry. I know this because that's what I've been doing for years. The Muslims also baulk at acknowledging what's wrong with their religion.
It's difficult for them because their faith is attacked by conservatives every single day. So acknowledging it might cause more stereotyping and a lot of "Aha! I told you so". So when terrorism in the name of Islam happens, everyone is in full-on defence mode. This needs to change at least from the side of the Muslims. Because there are a lot of Christians who criticize the bad side of Christianity and a lot of Hindus who speak out against the ridiculous practices in Hinduism. Because of this, there's some sort of a balance. People get to see the good and the bad side. The goodness will become clear. If anything, it'll lead to less stereotyping.
So let's all stop trying to push our agendas, at least when there's a tragedy, and look at it for what it actually is -- a hate crime by a terrorist who was driven by religious homophobia and could legally possess a military-grade weapon.
And to my fellow LGBTQ+ humans, regardless of how everyone sees it, let's never forget to talk about our struggles!