June 14, 2016

Omar Mir Seddique Mateen Was One of Ours

I've been trying to pull my thoughts together about the terrible tragedy that happened in the early hours of Sunday, June 12 at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Because otherwise I can't think of anything else.

First and foremost, nothing I write here is meant to deny the lives, pain, and suffering of the victims and their families and friends. I have spent the days since the killings weeping for those brothers and sisters killed by that twisted beast of a person who renamed himself Omar Mir Seddique Mateen, and desperately trying to get a handle on the horror.

The ISIS link is weak. He was an American. I look to Mateen's father's homophobic statements, the statements of the patrons of the club who recognized him, the terrible relationship with his first wife, the beating of his second wife, which all strongly hint at a repressed homosexual forced into an ill-suited life. Perhaps he turned to radical Islam to find help, justifications, the way so many same-sex-oriented Christians have turned to their churches for spiritual guidance and found only more intolerance and homophobia and reinforced self-hatred, or were shunted into conversion camps.

I'm not discounting mental illness, I'm not discounting violent images of massacres in the media, I'm definitely not discounting a more specific personal vendetta such as a failed secret relationship, or his failures to become a police officer, or a sense of rejection from the community, or that his gun license to carry semi-automatic assault weapons probably confused him into believing he had a license to kill. Perhaps he derangedly devised this mass murder as a way of covering for the unforgivable shame of his own emotions, his jealousy of happiness and freedom and acceptance of life's excitement which were denied him by religious and societal and familial pressures. Those joys can be terrible things to witness if you're not allowed admittance. But the honest truth is that I don't know. I can only do my best to try to unravel it because maybe if we find the reason why we can prevent it from ever happening again. 

He was one of ours.

I didn't say he was gay. I said he was homosexual, same-sex oriented. Gay is societal. Homosexual is biological. He was not part of the gay community. He hated it enough to attempt to obliterate its existence. He couldn't access it. That's the tragedy, I think. But of course I'm seeing it through the prism of my own experiences.

You know, the gay community, bars, clubs, etc., probably saved me when I was feeling most ostracized in my youth and provided me with most of my friends in life. But it’s a rough, cutthroat world, too, and very unforgiving and mean-spirited on occasion, and then sometimes so welcoming and loving. We come together in difficult times or celebration, but it's an easy world to misinterpret, a frustrating, frivolous world, if you're already witnessing it with a skewed, solitary, and damaged perspective.

These events include so much stuff coming together in a total perfect shitstorm – religion, family, sexuality, ethnicity, exclusion, marriage, abuse, failure, power, violence, guns, hatred, shame – that it’s hard to grasp, and it's grotesque, and I think we’re all turning it over and over to try to cope.

It seems to me that ISIS is a distraction, a cover story, from a murderous, evil group only too happy to provide one.

I don't want to hit anyone’s triggers by suggesting abuse, but with this level of hatred in his explosion, I'm nudged by the idea that there are molestation issues, too. Really there’s no direct red flag for me to point to yet, other than a sympathetic sense of the damage I’ve felt from similar victims. I’ve also had direct second-hand experience of guys telling me that these ultra-repressive segments of society are rife with the rape of boys and young men because there’s no other possible outlet for the hot insanity of sexual repression. I’ve heard it from guys escaping from the Hasidic communities, Saudi guys, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, and Afghans. It’s systemic, and deeply ingrained in their cultures as acceptable secret behavior between men, particularly in the cultures with a public bathing component separate from women. So my radar went up. Remember when that Iranian fuckwit Ahmadinejad gave that speech to the UN declaring that there were no gays in Iran? He used the same derogatory word the shooter’s father used, hamjensbazi, which means, roughly, “same-sex sluts.” It's my understanding that some segments of Arabic culture allow a certain amount of secret homosexual sex but not gay identity. It’s ancient and toxic. It's unspoken, whereas in the U.S.A., the "love that dare not speak its name" sometimes never shuts up.

I do blame the parents. If parents are absolved from culpability for the horrible actions of their adult children, then why are parents so proud of accomplishments? "MY son won a Tony award!" "MY son shot up a fag bar!" Responsibility cuts both ways. We don't really know how the parents feel or what they taught their son, other than the father reiterating that only God should punish homosexuals. But somehow I'd bet these parents did not have a healthy dialogue with their insane, mass-murdering son about the spectrum of sexuality in his youth. Instead of their soft apologies, I would have them say, "I realize that our religion and the hate it spews contributed to the homophobic insanity of our son, and I will regret my contribution to that hatred for the rest of my pathetic life. Perhaps if I had not been blinded by my delusions, I could have helped my son accept his own internal struggles and worked with him to express his confusion and discomfort in loving ways. I deeply regret my life choices and I am filled with sorrow for the victims for all eternity and I hang my head in shame for my failures as a parent and as a human being." Let's start there.

I’ve been fighting the forces of homophobia my whole life, and that struggle continues on ahead unabated. Meanwhile, gun control is a great next step for our country.

Ultimately, it seems to me that Omar Mir Seddique Mateen went on a murderous rampage, killing beautiful dancers in a club, rather than confront the deep darkness of his own sexual shame.

So what am I suggesting with this mess? I'm saying look at the damage the hateful homophobic messages of religion, politics, society, and family have wrought.

I'm not claiming as ours the loathsome murdering homophobic monster Mateen became. I'm claiming a broken boy and crying for his suffering. Rightly, he paid for his horrific, unforgivable madness with his life, but the forces of homophobia must be stamped out as well.

The true villains are those who instilled this hatred for gays -- and himself -- in Mateen's twisted heart.

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