I’m a queer Muslim. To those of you who think that’s an oxymoron look no further than the motto, “land of the free, home of the brave.” It feels like those who are not free are the only members of this nation who are showing any kind of bravery; whilst the free, for the most part, hide behind a veil of privilege.
What happened in Orlando was absolutely horrifying and indicative of systemic hate and oppression. The media response from the “powers that be” was nothing short of disgusting (I’m looking at you Trump). No one should be congratulated over the death of the innocent. One wife-beating asshole does not represent an entire faith.
To those of you who do not think that homophobia is real, look no further. To those of you who do not think gun control is an issue, look at the numbers.
To take an instance of homophobia and turn it into a religious war only does more to belittle the lives of a community who have fought for decades to fall in love and build honest lives together — without you peeking up their skirts or preaching fire and brimstone. The massacre at Pulse was not about Islam. It’s not about the immigration the media would have you believe — the night of the shooting was a Latin night whose flyer featured beautiful, strong trans women in celebration.
These are the victims, a people as deserving of a home here as any of you. Brown bodies wanting to be free and find joy, only to be gunned down by a lone killer who let society and a twisted view of faith affirm his view that these poor souls were lesser. They are not. We are not. We are most certainly not better if we do nothing to change hateful spiral we are all going down.
Stop fighting hate with hate. We need reform. Realize that to be free we must be brave, and challenge those voices that only scream oppression.
Don’t let indifferent officials tell you who and how to hate. Support each other and fight to allow people both like and not like you to love each other and feel safe enough to love themselves and dance or use a bathroom in peace.
Remember those acts of horror that happen all around the world that the media does not deem worthy enough to reach your newsfeeds. Remember that terrorism comes in all colors and is not tied to one faith. It happens in the policies we do nothing to change and the slurs we let slide with no qualms. Remember that your definition of family or of a man or woman is not Merriam-Webster approved and you are no one’s God to deem how they should or should not live.
If you don’t want to see two men in love, look the fuck away. But don’t use the continued hurt of a wounded community to direct your hate elsewhere or affirm made-up truths that support your own heartless agenda.
Pray for the victims, but don’t forget to be angry. Not at another group of oppressed individuals, but the people who strip these groups of agency and identity. Be mad at the politicians who want to destroy the idea of intersectional identities and crush both change and joy.
The only side you have to choose is the one of love and acceptance, not “us,” not “them.” Remember that families have been torn apart and devastated — families just as worthy as your own; there is no room for more hate unless it is directed at those policies that allow these things to happen. This isn’t about your religious persecution or your straight cisgender discomfort at a group of beautiful people daring to be happy. An American homophobe is a terrorist regardless of whom he worships, and when you are a silent member of a country of hateful homophobes, you are part of the problem, too.