To say anything about how what happened in Orlando affected me personally is egregiously selfish and egotistical, and is the domain of people who thrive on things like that. I spared my thoughts on the issue for the most part for my own community and its vigil of mourning and decided to leave it at that. My ability to write for The Advocate and our local paper The Gayly affords me more than enough opportunity to share my thoughts on a myriad of issues. With this affecting Orlando and the Latino community, I felt that this would be a far better time to step back and let them have the opportunity to speak and not force myself into the issue. Then something happened that made me feel I had to speak out.
I saw where a few liberal friends decided that their progressive ideals no longer applied to Muslims and said that maybe we need to talk about Islam and its issues with gays and women. Whoa, hold up. You do not get to start a conversation about the problems in Islam until we finish the one about people calling themselves Christian have treated us in this country. You do not get to exploit the way one radical Muslim man treated those LGBT people in Orlando to further your Islamophobia. Not when there is still a reckoning still to come about radical Christianity in America.
You cannot overlook the pastor in California who cheered the slaughter in Orlando in favor of imams in Qatar. When people who want to be president attend a conference where a minister says we are "worthy of death" and do not react in horror and denounce it, don’t even begin to talk to me about the problems in the Middle East. Don’t talk to me of ayatollahs issuing fatwas when Christian fundamentalists control state governments and pass laws creating a queer version of Jim Crow, hiding behind their faith to reduce entire groups of people to second-class citizens. Forced marriages in Afghanistan are terrible, yes, but so was the idea that same-sex couples couldn’t get married at all. Some of these radical Christians have tried to pass laws preserving conversion therapy and remove the ability for states to have any oversight of it. Let’s be real about what conversion therapy is — it’s a sexual reeducation camp. If you pray enough, want it enough, and are tortured enough, you can become a good heterosexual Christian. Don’t tell me that in ISIS-controlled territory they throw gay people off of buildings, because here in America, Christians can torture us so much, we’ll throw ourselves into traffic just to escape. Even in death, they’ll deny us our identity to protect their beliefs and erase us from their narratives.
Yes, there are absolutely terrible, horrible things happing under ISIS and Islam. I will not deny that, and neither will many Muslims. However, you cannot for one second try to pretend that the actions of one Muslim man with a rifle let radical Christians off the hook for all the terrible things they have done to LGBT people here. Do not try to say that one act is worse than another, because if it was entirely possible some of these Christians would murder us, torture us, and attack us. Oh, wait — they do. So what if in some of these places in the Middle East they use the power of the government to carry out their hate — they do the same here and are only restrained because some acts would be going a bit too far.
I do not hate Christians because of all this, nor do I hate Muslims for Orlando or any of the other things done by some of people of that faith. Christian churches play an important role here in our LGBT community in Oklahoma City. I have no hate for Muslims even despite 9/11 or Orlando, even with the fact I am a veteran of the war in Iraq. I’m smarter than that; I know handfuls of terrible people are not representative of entire races or religions. I also know that to think that when those Islamophobes erase that it was LGBT people killed in Orlando, it’s a cruel act to further their agenda. I also know that to suddenly care how a religion treats or views LGBT people when it fits into a comfortable narrative to excuse prejudices, while also whitewashing over another religions terrible acts, is a grand act of hypocrisy.
So no, America, you don’t get to do it this time. You do not get to use the Orlando tragedy to scapegoat an entire religion. You still haven’t managed to get the one we deal with every day off the hook.