I had to turn off the tv and stop surfing the web on the weekend. I just couldn’t take another story about the death and destruction in Orlando. I’ve been a journalist for a really long time and there are days I feel like I have wallowed in blood and pain.
Now that I have taken a deep breath and stepped away from the screen, I’m back and ready to consider what happened. The shooter–I will not use his name, he doesn’t get that recognition or notoriety from me–was the son of Afghan immigrants, born in NYC, living in Florida, with an ex-wife, a wife, a young son and anger issues.
Oh yeah, he was also gay. He was on gay dating apps. He hung out at Pulse nightclub, getting drunk and belligerent and complaining about how strict his family/religion/culture were.
So much for the shooter’s dad saying it was the sight of two guys kissing that set off the violence. You go to a gay club on Latin night, you will probably be exposed to kissing….and a bit more than that.
What’s ironic is that the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS during his 911 call. Perhaps he wasn’t aware that ISIS throws “sodomites” off roofs. The Taliban used to toss gays into a pit and topple a stone wall on top of them. Some gays have been lashed and executed in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
This is the culture the shooter grew up in, one that hated gays, His dad says God will punish homosexuals. But the shooter was gay. His self-loathing turned into our sadness.
Just one more point. It’s not just strict Islamic homes that preach against homosexuality. There are other religions that talk of “beating the gay out of you” or send members to therapy to be cured.
This isn’t about religion or culture….not really. It’s about intolerance. It was a hate crime. What’s sad is the person the shooter hated the most was himself.