Still Blinded by Straight White Privilege

I was about the write off the recent attacks as an isolated event, another crazy person with access to weaponry he shouldn’t have. The attacks were an issue with American guns laws. I told everyone this would happen again, it might be a school, like the Sandy Hook murders, it could happen in a movie theatre, like it did in Aurora. I wanted to pin this on something other than hate against a marginalized community. I started reading a bunch of hateful Twitter posts about retribution from God, and I wrote it off. I heard second hand of a local Christian man who’s decided to side with the shooter on this one, and I put it aside. I didn’t really think of the fact that the streets were being painted at the crosswalk in rainbow, and that Pride was happening locally soon. And it wasn’t until I sat down and read through the comments of my last blog, when it hit me; every single person that commented on it was a straight white male.

The attacks that took place were an attack against the LGBTQ community, and I made the mistake of trying to appropriate that elsewhere. To write it off as anything else was arrogant of me. To think that such a close knit community wouldn’t be reeling after a tragedy like this was ignorant. For that I apologize.

Anyone with a heart and a conscience has got to be feeling something these last few days, and everyone seems to be reacting differently. Some people are mourning, some are angry, some are frustrated. Some are also joyful, thinking this brutal act of hate is justified, that somehow the love between two people is more of an affront to humanity than the ending of a human life. And that’s what the LGBTQ community stands for, love and the right to love. It’s sickening to think there’s a vocal group of people who would rather see bloodshed than two men kiss.

In my haste, like many others, I was looking for a reason to why this happened, and I chose gun control. Other’s picked terrorism, some chose mental illness. There was a lot of things we could point to, to take our minds off the idea that the queer community is still vulnerable and still under threat. I wanted to think we were past that, the old guard who held that banner of homophobia was dying and that things were progressing. I still think things are getting better, and progress is being made, but after thinking about it long and hard, I had the sober realization we still have a long way to go as a society. The shooter was three years younger than I am. To think the old guard hasn’t left an impression on new generations was an naïve ideal.

It wasn’t long ago that being gay was a crime in this part of the world, where the treatment was rehabilitation, therapy. People were rehabilitated violently, and were subjected to chemical therapy. Love between two people was outlawed and met with violence and death. And it’s still illegal in much of the world, still outlawed, still met with vicious confrontation and murder. It seems so mind boggling backwards that love is not only looked down upon, but endures homicidal fury.

While debating whether owning a gun was a right or a privilege, I forgot that the opportunity to love someone else is a privilege, not a right in this world. That I have the privilege of being able to walk down the street without having the word faggot or dyke lobbed in my direction. That I have the privilege of being able to say “I love you” to someone I care about without having to look over my shoulder or mutter under my breath. That I have the privilege not to be a target because of my sexuality. These are privileges I take for granted. After the recent attacks, maybe I shouldn’t be so callous to give my opinion on a privilege that not everyone has access to.

All around the world, people are holding sigils to honour the dead and remember lose who have lost their lives to this tragedy. Maybe tomorrow, instead of getting on my soapbox to give out my opinion and ask hard question, I’ll try listening to someone else’s opinion and questions instead.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m still going to write something tomorrow, but goddamnit, I’m going to pick something that isn’t a tragedy.

p.s.s. All kinds of hugs to people out there. I’m hoping tomorrow is a sunnier day.


Guns Don’t Kill People (But it Certainly Makes it Easier)

 “Today we are dealing with something we never imagined, and is unimaginable.”

Buddy Dyer, Mayor of Orlando, Florida

Last night, the largest mass murder in United States history took place at Pulse nightclub, one of the premier gay nightclubs in Orlando, Florida. The attack, which the FBI says was ‘organized and well-prepared’, has left fifty dead and fifty three wounded. The attack started at 2:00 am, where the shooter entered the nightclub and began to open fire. He then took hostages, and it was not until approximately 5:00 am that the police took aggressive action and stormed the club in an attempt to free the hostages. They were successful. The perpetrator was killed in the ensuing shootout.

Here’s what we know about the shooter so far. His name was Omar Mateen. He was 29 years old. He had been married twice, and has a young son. He worked as a security guard, and he wanted to be a police officer, often hanging out with cops and going to shooting ranges with them. His first wife divorced him, stating that Omar was abusive and controlling. She mentioned that he’d occasionally denounce homosexuality when violent. She also mentioned that he may have been mentally unstable, with violent mood swings and unpredictable behavior. He wasn’t overly religious when they first met, but in an effort to straighten his life out, was slowly becoming a more devout Muslim.

He was on the FBI’s radar prior to the attacks, first for making inflammatory comments to coworkers, and then for having ties to a US radical who eventually became a suicide bomber in Syria. Even though he was under the eyes of the FBI, he still had two valid firearms licenses, a security officer’s license and a statewide firearms license. A few days prior to the shooting, he legally purchased the handgun and semi-automatic rifle he used to murder dozens of people. Before the attack, he made a call to 911, stating his allegiance to ISIS.

From all this information, we can try to piece together exactly what kind of attack this was. Yes, this was an attack on the LGBTQ community. Yes, you can call this a domestic terror attack. Yes, the person was mentally unstable.

Now, you could say this shows the LGBTQ community is still under threat and marginalized, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that radical Islamic terrorists are a security threat to the United States, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. You could say that this demonstrates a serious problem with how mental illness is looked at and dealt with by our society, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to disagree with you. Personally, I’m still shaking my head at one crucial detail; how was a man, who had issues with the LGBTQ community, who was known to associate with terrorists, who was known to have a violent past with his ex-wife, how on Earth did this person manage to walk into a gun store and legally purchase firearms?

The deadliest mass murder in the history of the United States. It’s impressive, in an incredibly twisted sort of way, that someone was able to kill that many people on their own. What’s even more impressive, is the laundry list of politicians, celebrities and talking heads that are shocked, I mean absolutely one hundred percent shocked, that another mass shooting took place in America. I’m not shocked. Truthfully, the only thing shocking about this is the number of killed and wounded. And the reason I’m not shocked is that a mass shooting takes place in the United States almost everyday.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to, considered by many to be the authority on mass shootings. Note that a mass shooting is defined by an incident where four or more people are shot, resulting in them being killed or wounded. Click on a year, and you are going to find that mass shootings in the US happen frequently. There was five mass shootings on June 11th, there was one on the 9th, another two on the 8th, one on the 6th, four mass shootings on the 5th, and one on the 4th. Before the shooting last night, there have been 14 mass shootings in the United States, with 19 dead and 44 wounded. In the month of June.

I’m not trying to downplay the attack last night. I’m not saying this wasn’t an attack on a vulnerable community, because it was. I’m not saying this man didn’t have ties to radical terrorists, because he did. And I’m not saying that this man wasn’t mentally ill, because anyone who decides to murder a large number of people probably is. What I’m saying is the only reason you are hearing about this, the only reason this is news is the number of dead. If the same attack took place and he had been less successful, killing three and wounding two for example, it wouldn’t have left the local Orlando news. This is news because it’s an outlier, an anomaly in a culture that accepts mass shootings as the norm.

This is a phenomenon unique to the United States gun culture. This doesn’t happen anywhere else in the Western world. If you want to understand why it happened, just know this; a disturbed man with ties to terrorists and a hatred of homosexuality was able to walk into a store and purchase a handgun and a rifle. Because even though he was a homophobic, mentally unstable terrorist, he was an American citizen first. And we certainly wouldn’t want to trample on the right to bear arms in America.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Until they reform gun laws in the US, the mass shootings will continue.