Orlando, Closet Revelation

In the aftermath of the June 12, Orlando gay nightclub shooting, there has been a growing tension between two outwardly incompatible positions. Some people believe that this attack was an act of terrorism. This was reinforced when world leaders, such as President Barack Obama and PM Malcolm Turnbull claimed this was true. Presidential nominee used this to gain political capital, by restating his position that Muslims should be banned from entering the US.


Others, mostly within the LGBTI community, say this was an act of homophobia. A man spreading his gay hate from the barrel of an AR-15. In Australia, a visiting UK Muslim cleric was forced to leave the country, after he made an assertion that under sharia law homosexuality was punishable by death.

Then something occurred that shines a different light on the attack. In Orlando, rumors were circulating that the homophobia displayed by gunman Omar Mateen was not the abstract, impersonal hate created by his Muslim background. Instead, it was a personal compulsion.

It appears that Mateen was a regular at the Pulse nightclub. He was obsessed with a dancer and had his favorite drag queens. Mateen preferred Latino men, which was the reason he chose “Latin Night” as the day of his attack. This was an act of revenge for rejections he experienced or maybe a way to obliterate guilt from successful encounters.

Mateen’s 911 call might have been one last attempt to cloak his sexuality, by claiming a connection to the Islamic State. He chose to be remembered as a martyr for IS, rather than a closeted gay man. The FBI says he did not have any terrorist connections, and he does not appear to have been an IS recruit. However, invocating its name is a trigger, because the radical jihadist ideology has found ways to bypass the moral objection that keeps most people from committing acts of violence.

What story will be told about this attack ten years from now? Will it be that a Muslim gunman walked into a gay nightclub and murdered 49 people? A radical Islamist committed a terrorist attack in Orlando? An American citizen used an AR-15 to commit a massacre? A conflicted gay man took revenge on people in a gay club?