Homophobia is more rife than assault rifles in the USA

When elected politicians actively stir up hatred against the LGBT community, it legitimises that hatred and makes bigots more comfortable in that hate.

Homophobia is more rife than assault rifles in the USA

I’ve needed to get this out of my head. It’s a long and rambling post that you might not want to read if you don’t want to see another opinion piece about the disgusting shooting in Orlando.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the horrible attack in Orlando over the weekend. I needed to write about this to get my thoughts about it in order and to help deal with the feelings that it’s stirred up in me. It’s been difficult.

I’m a member of a large number of online LGBT groups, both inside and outside the technology community. Understandably the very real, raw, emotional response to this atrocity - especially from my American friends  has been quite strong. The shooting was heartbreaking, to say the least.

It has stirred up a lot of feelings. Some of the expressions of them have been, in my opinion, quite ugly. Not least because the media is focusing almost exclusively on the religion that the shooter followed.

This has lead some of those people (who themselves are members of the LGBT community), I otherwise respect and like coming out with such terrible things from advocating mass exportation of all Muslims from the USA and interning all US-born muslims in camps all the way to glassing the Middle East with nuclear weapons.

I hope a lot of this was hyperbole said in grief, as I'd hate to think my friends and people I admire were capable of even contemplating such hideous acts.

You can’t, however, cure hate with more hate. You "fight" a toxic ideology with education and example.

We need to show them that their hate and ignorance won't affect how we live our lives and won't change the fact that we're with them at work, we're their doctors in hospitals, their fireman who rescues them from a burning building or the guy who makes their latte in Starbucks.

We’re just ordinary folks trying to make a living as best as we can in this world. We should, however, certainly know better than to lower ourselves to their level. We have to be above hate, even when it’s deliberately being whipped up.

It fits with the political climate in the USA just now to focus on the murderer and his connections to radical islam, and build a narrative about how this was an attack on “all of America” by “enemies of Freedom”.

We can’t let this narrative make us forget that these people who were murdered by a cowardly homophobe were members of the local LGBT community. This wasn’t an attack on all of America or on "American Values".

We can’t forget that this was a homophobic atrocity that was committed in a country where homophobia is rife, if not outright cheered on by large segments of its society at whole and by its elected representatives throughout the country.

When elected politicians actively stir up hatred against the LGBT community, it legitimises that hatred and makes bigots more comfortable in expressing their own hate.

Refusing to grant a gay couple a marriage certificate because you find homosexual unions immoral (even though they are legal) is an act of violence. Small acts of violence add up and built a climate where larger, more excessive expressions of violence are more likely.

When legislators are passing laws about which toilets transgender people can pee in, repealing laws related to equal treatment for the LGBT community, or actively passing discriminatory ones - it creates and gives legitimacy through the force of the state to a system of oppression. Indeed, it means that the state is actually working deliberately against some of its citizens.

The USA has an institutional problem with homophobia. This needs to be vigorously challenged at every level by the LBGT community and its allies, not just in the USA but worldwide. Systemic discrimination of LGBT people exists across the USA. In Florida, for example, you can be fired from your job for being gay.

The USA’s political right is responsible for much of this inequity in the country. These are the same people who are focusing on the murderer’s region and cultural background.

They're as much of an enemy of the LGBT community in the USA as the rare lone gunman who goes on a tragic and unforgivable rampage of death is. They created they systemic homophobia that makes these crimes "ok" in the first place.

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