Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando

Not what I wanted to write today - and I'll forgive anyone who leaves immediately and comes back tomorrow.

At about 2am Sunday morning the worst terrorist attack in U.S. soil since 9/11 occurred when a single gunman opened fire in the "Pulse" nightclub in Orlando, Florida. For those who don't know, Pulse is the most prominent and largest gay club in Orlando. At 5am, SWAT stormed the club, liberating remaining hostages and killing the gunman.

Muddying the waters is the fact that the shooter had connections to daesh. (Note, I am not using his name. I will not use his name. After his crimes, he does not deserve that dignity).

But his own family, those who knew him best, came forward to say that he simply hated gay people.

50 people were killed in the attack and over 50 more injured (If you question how one man took out so many people, you've never been in a large night club on Saturday night). The LGBT community in Orlando is devastated.

And since the attack I have heard innocent Muslims vilified and blamed.

I stand with the victims and their families. I am a bisexual woman - I'm not the type to either hide in the closet or wrap myself in a pride flag. Our community has faced hate before. People try to argue we are no longer oppressed. But we are - and we are hated and feared. The target was chosen solely because the gunman hated gay people. Whatever connections he might have had, we don't need to look further for a motivation. It was an act of terror, because now people will think twice before going to a club to enjoy themselves, people who intended to come out may not. (And some people will come out because of this, to show they are not afraid).

But I also stand against the rabid Islamophobia that is spreading through the western world, in patterns that sadly remind me, as a student of that history, of 1930s Germany. At Balticon, we shared the hotel with Muslims. Lots of Muslims - there was a religious conference going on. I suppose I could say they got me with a biological weapon (I am fairly sure the source of the nasty bug I picked up at the con was one of their kids - they brought all of their kids, or seemed to) ;). I was not afraid of them. Nor did I think those women, most of whom were hijabi, seemed particularly oppressed.

Islam is not the problem.

Fanaticism is.

Homophobia is.

And we need to remember in this aftermath that:

1. Some people still just hate gay people. Maybe some people always will and the best we can hope for is that we'll all be civilized enough not to act on it.

2. Daesh is not Islam. Hate is not Islam.