There is still much to learn about what led 29-year-old Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie, Florida to murder 49 patrons early Sunday morning at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida and in the coming days we will have more answers. On Sunday, police said that 50 people had been killed. However, on Monday, they changed that number to 49, to exclude the gunman from the death toll.
In the hours that followed the terrifying attack, President Barack Obama did not hesitate to condemn the massacre as “an act of terror and an act of hate.”
“This is an especially heartbreaking day for all our friends—our fellow Americans—who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” President Obama said in an address to the nation on Sunday morning. “The shooter targeted a nightclub where people came together to be with friends, to dance and to sing, and to live.”
Authorities have said that the Orlando shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11. It was a terrorist attack as has been widely reported, but it was also a homophobic attack on LGBT people. Yes, an act of violence can be more than one thing.
Make no mistake, this was a homophobic hate crime, something that many media outlets around the world have seemingly downplayed or failed to mention. However, we cannot gloss over quickly written reports that continuously claim that this was an attack “against human beings,” and then nod our heads in unison, because this was not an attack on everyone.
This was an attack on LGBT people. This was a targeted attack on LGBT people. It needs to be said out loud, over and over again.
This attack is a reminder to LGBT communities around the world that even though the United States and other countries around the world have made historic strides in recent years in broadening the rights of its LGBT citizens – like the June 2015 US Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is a legal right across the United States – the struggle and the fight for equality and acceptance is far from over.
While the violence could have hit any American community, it did not. It did not, because it was intentionally targeted to one community and we can’t ignore that. A community that is gearing up for pride month celebrations around the world in hopes of encouraging a more accepting embrace of LGBT citizens. But, how can a community feel embraced when the realities of an attack on LGBT people in Orlando, a targeted mass killing of LGBT people, is being silenced?
Make no mistake, this was an attack on LGBT people.