June 14, 2016

Say their names; do some reading.




Dave Holmes in Esquire on what it costs to be gay in public:

But here’s the thing: terrorism toward LGBT people is a redundancy…. Too many of us have been terrorized by actual violent acts, but each of us—when we are called a faggot, when we hear a gay joke and nobody speaks up, when we watch a dozen presidential hopefuls from one of our country’s two political parties promise to amend the Constitution to steal our civil rights—has been subject to an act that is dangerous to human life. We all have scars on our souls from it. All of us.

Huw Lemmey at the London Review of Books on the future of Pride:

Politicians condemn the hatred in Orlando as uniquely other, imported, foreign, anti-Western; but last year Ted Cruz gratefully accepted the endorsement, with a warm handshake, of a pastor who had just called for the execution of gay men. LGBT people see this. Just as we see the hand-wringing equivocation from cisgendered people who are ‘uncomfortable’ about sharing public bathrooms with trans people. We understand who the political buzzword ‘family’ includes, and who it excludes. We understand violence and hatred as the ever-present look over the shoulder when we hold our lovers’ hands.

There’s a faultline between the way much of the media and many straight people are interpreting the Orlando attack, in the context of Islamist terrorism and the attacks in Paris and Brussels, and the way many LGBT people understand it, on a spectrum of daily violence and prejudice. It makes sense within a general tendency intent on denying our humanity, from the ongoing attempts to prevent trans people from using public bathroom facilities to the bombing of Target, attacks on Gay Pride parades, transphobic murders, the Admiral Duncan nailbomb and the constant, low-level threat of aggression you face by simply being a queer person in public. And if we say that this attack is part of living in a homophobic and transphobic society, we will further be insulted as shills for terrorists, liberals in denial, cowards and more. Queer Muslims, meanwhile, face the combined bigotry of homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and racism.

Nicole Colson in Jacobin on alternatives to hate and bigotry:

At a time when Republicans in particular have whipped up hysteria about the supposed threat that transgender people pose by using bathroom facilities corresponding to their self-identified genders, any who now claim to be outraged by bigotry against the LGBT community are the rankest kind of hypocrite.

For his part, Barack Obama said in a press conference following the shooting that it was “an act of hate. And as Americans, we are united in our resolve to defend our people.”

In fact, Omar Mateen was “our people” — an American whose views of LGBT people was irreparably warped by bigotry, whatever inspired it.

Samra Habib in The Guardian on the mourning of queer muslims:

We are now used to the fact that, every time a criminally misguided Muslim commits an act of violence, the entire religion and all its followers are questioned and placed under suspicion in a way that isn’t replicated with other faiths. We – and this of course includes queer Muslims – have to take extra care walking down the street at night and entering our mosques for fear of Islamophobic attacks. Muslim organizations and activist groups are tasked with the responsibility of releasing public statements, apologizing for the actions of terrorists and reminding the world that Islam promotes peace so innocent Muslims who are just trying to go about their daily lives don’t suffer repercussions.

Much has been written about what drives someone to kill innocent people. Arie Kruglanski, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, studied the final words of suicide bombers and discovered a pattern: their motivation is personal significance and a search for a meaning that they are brainwashed into believing can only come with death. This is not the typical Muslim experience, but an aberration.

Richard Kim in The Nation on the magic of gay bars:

Gay bars are therapy for people who can’t afford therapy; temples for people who lost their religion, or whose religion lost them; vacations for people who can’t go on vacation; homes for folk without families; sanctuaries against aggression. They take sound and fabric and flesh from the ordinary world, and under cover of darkness and the influence of alcohol or drugs, transform it all into something that scrapes up against utopia.

I’ve never been to Pulse, the Orlando gay nightclub where Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded another 53. But I know that for some queer people there it was their utopia. Or, as Daniel Leon-Davis movingly recollects, a “safe haven,” the place “where I learned to love myself as a gay man,” and the place “where I learned to love my community.” Or as President Obama put it, “a place of solidarity and empowerment.” Last night, this place was violated.

And here’s a recommended reading list compiled by librarians and teachers.



Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.