Jacqui Germain writes, “Defining safety for all queer people in the wake of Orlando:” (emphasis mine)
Last weekend’s shooting happened on Pulse Nightclub’s Latinx-themed night, advertised with a flyer that featured two Trans Latina women on the front. As a montage of faces began spreading across social media in an effort to uplift and memorialize the deceased, it quickly became clear that the 50 shooting victims were overwhelmingly brown-skinned queer people. This fact isn’t a case of happenstance; the specificity of the violence suggests a specificity in its impact, and that impact calls for intentionality in response. It is crucial that we center marginalized people in conversations around how we can work to make this world safe for queer folks. This wasn’t a coincidence: brown queer and Trans people have experienced years of targeted, lethal violence that contextualizes the massacre in Orlando within decades and centuries of homophobia, transphobia and racism.
The “and racism” is still the mountain that many white queer folks would prefer to simply walk around rather than traverse. To most people, homophobia is readily apparent in the events in Orlando. But the racism? Not so much. White supremacy is still a thing that white-dominated spaces—whether they’re queer or not—struggle to sufficiently address and actively resist. And mainstream queer America is, certainly, overwhelmingly white.
I naively hoped passive-aggressive Facebook comments would be their mainstay until I heard back from friends about the racism they witnessed at various vigils for the victims. I’ll put it this way: more than one friend used the word “homonationalism,” a term meant to describe the way the mainstream gay community tends to position itself comfortably within a nationalist identity. Rather than being at odds with American patriotism and nationalism – which in many ways perpetuates violence against marginalized communities here and abroad – the mainstream gay community too often directly participates in American nationalism in an effort to prove that they deserve access to the rights and freedoms of citizenship.
Reina Gattuso writes, “No Islamophobia in the name of Queers”
When I first heard on Sunday morning that fifty people had been killed by a gunman at Latin night in an Orlando gay club, Rick Scott’s voice played over my grief. And over, and over: “This is an attack on our people” said the recording, playing on a loop. “An attack on all of us.”
Our people. Americans. Us.
Beneath my shock was rage: Since when has Rick Scott thought of queers as part of “us”?
It is a collective rage.
Violence at this scope is mind-numbing in its enormity, and brings with it the need for a suspended animation, the need for time and space to realize — if it can be realized — the beauty of human life and the terror of its loss. But in the United States, in a state of war that seems interminable and that breeds a systemic devaluing of both queer and Muslim life, the grief of violence is trailed by an anxiety that blossoms the moment we hear the gunman’s name. When Trump gets onstage and calls again for the banning of Muslim immigration into the U.S., the fear swells: One minority’s lives will be weaponized against another.
It is very easy, and very tempting, for white queers, rich queers, queers whose gender presentations are still relatively normative, non-Muslim queers, to use our privileges to alleviate some of our marginality.There has been a great deal of academic work in recent years on the way in which non-Muslim queers have exploited an Islamophobic and militaristic nationalism to encourage our assimilation into mainstream society. As with discourse about women’s rights, LGBT rights have been exploited as yet another reason for war in the Middle East.
To Donald Trump and Rick Scott, to anyone who believes that American assault weapons do not belong in Florida but do belong in Palestine, to anyone who uses queer grief to keep refugees out and Muslims in fear, to anyone who uses queer lives to wage war: We are not yours.
Cassie Da Costa writes, “In the Face of Homophobia and Islamophobia, Queer touch persists:”
Not only have I courted my own silence, but felt trapped in it. In the days following the mass shooting at Pulse, we’ve been reminded that we live in society that questions if a black and/or Latinx and/or Muslim person can be queer. This is a society that has no imagination for brown and black skin, one that lacks the capacity to map a history of touch that is past, present, and future, one that cannot truly conceive of a black or brown body as sensuous and vulnerable, but only as violent or as a product of violence.
Furthermore, the convergence of homophobia and Islamophobia that has been facilitated not only by major media but also by both presidential candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, not only tries to deny queer Muslim identity but tries to deny solidarity between non-Muslim POC and Muslims who have been working together to fight against homophobia, transphobia, and racism. It positions bodies that would find pleasure, comfort, and power in each other as possible dangers to each other, pits black and brown and queer bodies against each other in the name of some elusive, untrue American solidarity. (As I write this, I’ve just become aware of a wonderful piece by Raillan Brooks at the Village Voice, on being queer and Muslim in America, especially now in the wake of the Orlando attacks.)
Man, they are slaying hard at feministing.