It matters that Pulse was an LGBT+ club.
It matters it was Pride.
It matters it was a Latinx night.
It matters the headliners were trans and of colour.
It matters that the shooter got an assault rifle so easily.
It matters that 53 people are injured.
It matters that 49 people are dead.
It matters the Christian right introduced 200 anti-LGBT+ bills in the 6 months before this.
It matters, the same week, someone bombed a Target restroom.*
It matters a white man brought weapons and explosives to another Pride event the same day.
It matters the media neglected to say it was a gay club for hours.
It matters the media suddenly remembered when the shooter turned out to be Muslim.
It matters we don’t know the shooter had any motivation beyond queerphobia.
It matters we do know he had a history of toxic masculinity and wife beating.
It matters this may be the 2nd or 3rd worst US mass shooting after Wounded Knee and very possibly Tulsa.
It matters that AMAB queers and their partners aren’t allowed to donate blood.
It matters that straights are highjacking the discourse, whether into “All Lives Matter,” or somehow into anti-selfie culture, stonewalling dissenting LGBT+ and queer voices at every turn.
What matters is that the lives and deaths of queer people of colour don’t matter to them.
None of the people crying out about the queerphobia of Islamic extremism care about dead queers – much less dead queers of colour. Trump and his cronies have spent the past number of months talking about “building a wall” to keep out Latin@ people – just like those who were killed on Saturday. Disgusting and exhausting as the Sky News video was, Julia Hartley-Brewer was wholly astute when she said that, if people weren’t moved enough by the slaughtered children at Sandy Hook to do something about gun control, you can bet dollars to donuts that news of 49 Latinx queers isn’t going to affect any change at all. Rather, the media and pundits will continue to deflect, continue to divide and conquer. Yesterday, queers and above all trans women were dangerous threats to public (esp. bathroom) safety. Today, we are victims, held in binary opposition to Islam, for conservative political point-scoring. It suits white-centric, neocon queerphobic powers-that-be to imply that there are no queer Muslims, currently feeling sickened by someone who may or indeed very well may not have committed an atrocity in the name of their religion of peace, feeling frightened by yet another display of violent queerphobic oppression experienced, as per usual, by trans/femme queer people of colour first, and feeling dread in the face of reprisals enacted upon the homogenised orientalist Dutch cartoon image of Islam the media remain desperate as ever to portray.
These people have no understanding of what a space like a gay club can mean for we who are not yet out, or who are finding exactly who we are. The one secret girl in an all boy’s school, the club scene was where I first began to discover and negotiate my sexuality and gender. It was where I was first able to put on a dress, and hear nothing apart from “nice dress.” It was where I gained enough of a community to feel safe enough in coming out to be prepared for the negative consequences. Everyone with power, taking advantage of the outpouring of grief since Saturday night would have liked nothing more than to see Pulse shut down and replaced with shops or high-end apartments. Some of them haven’t even bothered to mask their utter lack of sorrow in the face of queer deaths at all. I have spent enough time attending and, since last year, hosting Transgender Day of Remembrance to be aware of the wide margin between numbers of murdered queer people of colour and murdered white queers to know that the pronouns “we,” “us” and “our” in relation to white queer solidarity with the victims of Saturday’s attack are deflections of the whole truth: whichever way you look at this thing, people of colour are the primary victims, both in and outside of the club. We must not allow queerphobic racists to incite queer racism. The atrocity of Saturday night can hardly be said to be the work of a “lone gunman” in a society that promotes hatred and bigotry at the level of both public policy and social ostracisation of otherness every single day.
What matters is that we acknowledge our similarities, address our differences, support our most vulnerable first and respond from the grassroots. We cannot trust politicians or the media to respond morally, or to have our interests at heart; that is not their purpose. We must not simply stand, but act in support and solidarity of those lost and those who remain. We must fight the ideology of hatred that inspired the Orlando shooter, whom I shall continue not to name on social media, but we must also realise that it is very nearly the same hatred that inspires our politicians to make our lives harder for our genders and sexualities, our ethnicities and abilities. What matters is that 49 people with hopes, dreams, pasts and futures didn’t deserve to die for who they were, but they did. What matters is that we fight for a time when nobody will. Rest in Power to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Recover in Power to the survivors.
*debates are ongoing as to whether this was for transphobic, ideological reasons, or drug manufacture gone awry.
Please consider donating to the Muslims United For Victims of Pulse Shooting fundraiser.
Lexi Turner is a soon-to-graduate 3rd year Film student at King’s, who held positions on the iFemSoc committee as Events Organiser in 2013-2014 and Trans Rep in 2015-2016. Ze is available to message via the iFemSoc Facebook group or via hir personal Facebook.
If you want to write for us, come check out our Writing Topics Page. Or if you want to find more fantastic intersectional articles from us, go check out our Contents Page.