Every single person in Pulse nightclub in Orlando was someone’s child, and they were killed by a combination of hatred, bigotry, and political cowardice.
As news of the massacre broke on Sunday morning, the families of the forty nine victims must have been frantically trying to call their loved ones. Those calls went unanswered. I watched as stories emerged of terrified texts sent to mothers from bloody bathroom stalls. I watched as the names of the victims were released and watched the grief of friends on Facebook as they realised they knew people who’d died. I watched as politicians began to assign blame, pointing the finger at Islam, and ISIS, at the gun lobby.
The scale of the massacre and the assault weapons that facilitated it might be unique to the USA but the homophobia and hate that drove it is not. Whether it’s in the USA or Australia, we are used to being attacked and demonised. The bodies in Orlando were barely even cold when a Family First candidate for the Federal election posted this:
Our own leader Malcolm Turnbull, during his first statement on Orlando did not even mention that the attacked occurred in a gay nightclub.
He later corrected this, and acknowledged that it was an assault on the gay community. But many Republican leaders in the USA have painted Orlando as just a terrorist attack and refused to acknowledge the gay connection. Most expressed “thoughts and prayers” for the victims (has there ever been anything so hollow as hearing a politician who takes money from the National Rifle Association express sympathy for the victims of its avarice?) without even acknowledging that Pulse nightclub was an LGBTI venue.
Donald Trump has been quick to focus on the murderer’s (I’m not going to name him) faith and to use it to back his policy of banning Muslims from entering the United States (even though the murderer was born and bred in America). While homophobia is certainly a major problem in the Muslim world, what made the condemnation from Republicans all the more hollow to the gay community was that in western countries the main source of homophobia and hatred is mainstream politicians and religious groups. Most of them are Christian.