Who was Omar Mateen?
The evidence is getting stronger. The Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, was frequently seen at the Pulse nightclub in the months before the attack. He also had profiles on gay dating websites and his (more or less intimate) contact with gay men reaches back at least ten years. On at least one occasion he expressed the desire to date another man.
Nevertheless, he was married to women twice. His first wife divorced him after only four months claiming he was unstable and abusive. His second wife mentioned that he was not very religious. Allegedly, he called 911 during his attack, pledged allegiance to ISIS, and spoke about being inspired by the Al-Nusra Front. The two organizations are enemies. It is therefore highly questionable why someone who really sides with one of them would be supportive of both.
Omar Mateen was raised in a Muslim home. Islam does, just like Christianity, condemn homosexuality–at least as long as we don’t look too closely. In the Bible, Genesis 19:1-29 tells about Sodom and Gomorrah. The story speaks about two cities that were destroyed by God for a very grave sin–allegedly homosexuality. This passage is often used to demonstrate God’s treatment of and disgust with homosexual people.
A reference to the very same story is given in the Quran, stating that yes, God does not like LGBT people and will punish them horribly:
“And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people. But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure. So We saved him and his family, except for his wife; she was of those who remained [with the evildoers]. And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (7:80-84)
But the story of Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t a condemnation of homosexuality at all, it is a story about gang rape and a lack of hospitality. The true transgression is described in Ezekiel 16:49: “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” The Quran verses were written some 2,000 years after the book of Leviticus and were influenced by a wrong interpretation of the Bible verses.
Mateen’s father stated in a YouTube video only days after the attack: “In this month of Ramadan, the gay and lesbian issue is something that God will punish,” though he added “the servants of God shouldn’t have anything to do with it.” So while he publicly condemned his son’s crime, he nevertheless made it very clear that the LGBT community is a disgrace. How toxic this family must have been for a young gay man.
Not good, not right, not welcome
Across the United States, many major Christian denominations and a majority of Muslim congregations do not welcome LGBT people who live their identity out in the open. Sermons from both religions encourage everything from praying for healing for gay people to openly asking for their execution.
A preacher in Sacramento said in his sermon, given merely hours after the shooting, that these deaths should not be mourned and that Orlando is now a safer place.
A speaker at a mosque in Orlando stated that gay and lesbians can only be forgiven if they die and that it is therefore a good thing to kill them.
One can only imagine how severely damaging such hate speech must be for young LGBT men and women who live closeted in congregations like these. How torn they must be between their desire to be a good Christian or Muslim and their self-doubt and self-hatred.
A study published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology states that:
participants who reported their heterosexuality despite having hidden same-sex desires were also the most likely to show hostility toward gay individuals, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, endorsement of anti-gay policies and discrimination … .”
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center comes to the conclusion that between 30 and 40% of LGBT youth in the USA have attempted suicide at least once.
Act of Terror, Hate Crime … Victim?
Who is to blame for Omar Mateen’s killing spree? In the end, he is. He is fully responsible for his actions. Yet, with all the evidence that points to homo- or at least bisexuality, it is hard not to wonder who or what might have set him off and pushed him down the road that ended with his death in the Pulse nightclub.
As long as gay conversion therapy is legal in this country, as long as LGBT members of our society do not have the exact same rights as everyone else, as long as LGBT children are not protected from indoctrination and hate speech, as long as those on the radical religious right have any say in this nation, we cannot be surprised if Orlando is just the beginning.
So how many victims were there? 49? Or do we count Omar, too? Is he the 50th victim, even though he was a killer who brought unspeakable suffering to the families and friends of the other 49?
Whatever it may be, you, religious fundamentalists of every religion, you have the blood of my siblings on your hands. Don’t you dare pray for us now!
- ^ http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/orlando-shooter-reported-pulse-club-regular-patrons-article-1.2672445
- ^ http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-orlando-nightclub-shooting-20160613-snap-story.html
- ^ http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2016/06/13/sacramento-baptist-preacher-praises-orlando-gay-nightclub-attack/
- ^ http://www.wnd.com/2016/06/gays-must-die-says-muslim-at-orlando-mosque/
- ^ http://www.livescience.com/19563-homophobia-hidden-homosexuals.html#sthash.l7u3sTYR.dpuf
- ^ http://www.sprc.org/sites/sprc.org/files/library/SPRC_LGBT_Youth.pdf
About Franziska Garner
Franziska Garner was born and grew up in Germany. In September 2015 she moved to the United States and married her partner Lisa. Together they are building a ministry (www.wetfeetministry.com) with a special outreach to the LGBT+ community.