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The chapter from Leviticus that supposedly condemns homosexuality.

Americans are as Much a Threat to the LGBTQIA Community as Radical Islamists

The chapter from Leviticus that supposedly condemns homosexuality.

After the Orlando Shootings, America Mustn’t Forget the LGBTQIA Hatred at Home.

As more details trickle in about the shooting massacre that erupted at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, what is clear is that federal and local officials are treating this incident as an “act of terror.”

Officials have verified that the shooter, Omar Mateen, 29, is an “ISIS sympathizer” and on the FBI’s most wanted list. Mateen, who was killed by Orlando local law enforcement in shootout, was suspected of having ties to radical Islamist organizations.

What else do we know? A night that began as a celebration of LGBTQIA Pride, and was supposed to be about music, performances, dancing — this particular evening was Latin night — quickly morphed into rampage, death and destruction.

Fifty people were killed and 53 were injured. Some friends and relatives are still trying to find out if their loved ones survived the carnage or lie among the dead.

Make no mistake: Mateen is despicable human being whose actions in Florida have only contributed to the all-too-real fears American citizens rightfully harbor about gun laws in the United States.

The Orlando Shootings Weren’t Just an ‘Act of Terror.’

However, because various mouthpieces are billing this attack as an “act of terror” — President Barack Obama among them — committed by an “ISIS sympathizer,” and have focused almost exclusively on Mateen’s religious identification as a radical Islamist, there is a very real danger that Americans will be willingly or voluntarily lulled into the belief that homophobia is a phenomenon peculiar to Islamic doctrine. We will look elsewhere — outside the country or outside “American values” — to find the source of the problem this hatred. We will blame gender violence on “terrorists” who infiltrate the country. We will fail to look within, at ourselves.

Homegrown attacks on the LGBTQIA community are far more commonplace than people might admit. The hard truth is, Americans have been assaulting and killing LGBTQ persons as far back as 1970s. One notable event during this period was an incidence of arson at the Upstairs Lounge, a gay bar in New Orleans, in 1973. Thirty-two people were killed.

In 1997, Eric Rudolph, also known as the Olympic Park bomber and a member of the Army of God, targeted a lesbian lounge for a two-bomb killing spree. One of the bombs injured five people after denoting in the bar. Rudolph pleaded guilty and admitted that it was his intention to kill homosexuals.

In Santa Clara, between 2007 and 2008, the passing of Proposition 8 drove up anti-gay crimes by 11.

In 2013, according to an FBI report, gender violence accounted for 20 percent of hate crimes in U.S.

In 2014, according to an FBI report, gay men were the targets of 61 percent of all hate crimes committed in America.

Then there are the murders of LGBTQIA-identified persons spread out over various dates and months throughout 2015. Most of the victims were in their early 20s: Bri Golee (22), killed on Feb. 13; Cameroon Langrell, killed on May 1; India Clarke (25), killed on July 21; Amber Monroe (20), killed on Aug. 8; Keisha Jenkins, killed on Oct. 6; Zella Ziona (21), killed on Oct. 15.

All these numbers, all this death, all this tragedy, all this loss from in-house terror makes it crystal clear that Americans (“Protestant Christians”) are as much a threat to the LGBTQ community as any radical Islamic organization.

Instead of Americans playing the blame-game and finding an “Other” to scapegoat, we should be actively working to root homophobia and the violent impulses it breeds out of ourselves.


Antwan is an educator, cultural critic, actor, and writer for Wear Your Voice Mag (WYV), where he focuses on the dynamics of class, race, gender, politics, and pop culture. Prior to joining the team at WYV, he was an adjunct professor in the African American Studies Department at Valdosta State University in southern Georgia, where he taught African American Literature. He has traveled the U.S. and U.K. showcasing a fifty-five minute, one-person play titled Whitewash, which focuses on the state of black men in the post-civil rights era. Antwan received his B.A. in English and Literature from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and M.A. in African American Studies from University of California, Los Angeles. He is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and NAACP theater nominee.

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