The murders at Pulse were an act of terrorism, but just as much an act of anti-LGBT hate.
When you call the creep who murdered my Latino/a brothers and sisters at Pulse — a GAY BAR — a terrorist, you are only half right. He was a terrorist who hated LGBTQ people, and many in the media are soft-peddling that fact.
If you do not understand why this is so disturbing, you are most likely not GLBTQAAIA, or whatever letter you can tag onto the acronym.
Am I angry? Hell yes.
Do I want change? Yes.
I would love it if everyone would just “get along.” But in America, we love our prejudices. And we have politicians and pundits who nurture them.
They stoke the fear that a lot of heterosexual men and women have of a different sexual orientation. They stoke the fear of the “other,” whether it is race, heritage, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The “other” is something to be feared, despised and hated.
Add to this toxic mix the insanely easy access to high-powered weapons and ammunition designed to do nothing but slaughter people, and you have an even more volatile and deadly situation.
Sadly, in America when we are wronged — either by action or perception — we immediately look for revenge.
Usually, revenge with a gun. We even joke about it, speaking of “blowing away” people we disagree with. It is the subject of movies, TV and books — a consistent thread in our culture.
So is it any wonder that the epidemic of gun violence has become an LGBTQ issue?
Meanwhile, there is the hate crime in Orlando.
Orlando — I used to think of that city’s name as synonymous with fun, vacations, and pleasure. The theme parks, the tourist attractions and the gay bars made it a favorite spot for me and many of my friends.
But now, I can never use that city name again without seeing the faces of the 49 mainly Latino/a brothers and sisters who were murdered and the 50-plus others who are making painful recoveries in hospitals around the city.
Aside from tarnishing the city’s name, the crime committed against the LGBTQ community has left a lot of LGBTQ people, such as myself, feeling wounded as well. Not just by the despicable act of the shooter, but by the “straight-washing” that has taken place in the press.
Calling the murderer a terrorist is only half right. He also hated LGBTQ people, and he specifically targeted a gay nightclub.
Frankly, I don’t care that he called 911 and ranted about ISIS. I don’t care if he wore a fake explosive vest or not. I don’t care if he was “radicalized” or not.
Anyone who goes into a gay bar and starts mindlessly killing people is radical in my book, and his target makes the reason pretty clear. This was not random violence; it was specific and it was a hate crime.
Now, that said, to the many heterosexual friends who have offered sympathies: Thank you. You recognize that this was an event that affected me and all the LGBTQ community. But please understand that the raw nerves and grief being experienced by the worldwide LGBTQ community is very real and very raw. We have all been attacked and it is every bit as traumatic as 9/11 was for the entire country.
So cut your LGBTQ friends a little slack, and maybe, if you really believe that you are an ally, you will join in doing something to change things. That could start with, oh, I don’t know … stricter gun laws?
The measures we are asking for have worked in every other “civilized” country, and they can work here. Almost half of the U.S. Senate thought gun law reform was a good thing, but those who were on the payroll of the NRA managed to get even the lamest form of control voted down.
I know, I know — Second Amendment and “bearing arms,” founding fathers and “well-regulated militia” and blah blah blah. Hey, just what is an assault weapon anyway?
Want to quibble about the definition of “assault weapon”? Then go over to the NRA website and chat with the people over there stroking their guns.
Here in my community, we are healing. And we really don’t care about whether you want to call this a terrorist attack or not.
To us, it was family, and to us, it calls for action.
I sincerely hope a big part of that action happens this November at the ballot box. All but three votes that defeated four minor gun control bills in the Senate came from Republicans. Let’s start with eliminating all those (R)’s who are up for re-election.
Then maybe we can do more than talk about healing.
Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2016.