On learning of the horrific massacre that took place at the Pulse nightclub, an LGBT venue in Orlando, Florida, I was as shocked, stunned and saddened as the next decent human being. 49 innocent victims, slaughtered, for what? In the immediate aftermath, I thought and felt it best to say nothing, at least until I had gathered my thoughts. Besides, there was too much speculation and too little by way of facts, to make any valuable contribution, other than to state the obvious; a terrible atrocity had been carried out on the LGBT community.
Initially, it appeared as if the crime may have been committed out of a combination of extreme homophobia and sympathies with IS, as evinced by statements made by the killer's father and the FBI. As more has become known about the perpetrator, Omar Mateen, a more complex picture has emerged. It appears he may have been deeply conflicted about his sexuality, having frequented the Pulse nightclub and used gay dating apps. We often hear it said, that those who are deeply homophobic are insecure about their own sexuality, something which very often proves to be true.
Sadly, if predictably, presidential hopeful Donald Trump, wasted no time in using this most tragic event, to justify and step up his Islamophobic rhetoric, even going as far as criticising President Obama and fellow presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, for not attributing the attack to Islamic extremism. I'm honestly unsure, as to whether the man means what he says, or if he's simply using the situation to make political gains. Either way, it is utterly deplorable. Let's not pretend for one minute, that if Omar Mateen had been a Christian fundamentalist, Trump would be making the same despicable generalisations.
The tragedy has further intensified the calls for stricter gun control in the United States, just as every one of the seemingly endless stream of mass shootings that take place there does. Unfortunately, for every voice in the USA calling for greater restrictions, there is an equally passionate voice from those who are vehemently opposed to any dilution of their precious, Second Amendment right to bear arms. How many times have we heard the inane phrase "Guns don't kill people, people do"? Some even go as far as to call for everyone to carry arms, believing that this would help prevent such atrocities taking place. What twisted logic is this? Similarly, we hear it said that those determined to carry out mass murder do not solely rely on firearms. This is true. What is also, all too painfully true, is that at the Pulse nightclub, a firearm was Omar Mateen's weapon of choice with which to slaughter 49 innocent victims. Still, it is difficult to see any positive progress being made on the issue in the near future, such is the strength of the pro lobby in the States.
If nothing else, we can at least take some comfort in the mass outpouring of solidarity with the victims of the Pulse nightclub shootings, expressed by, not just the LGTB community, but by people from all walks of life around the globe.