Anti-Queer Terrorism, What a Joke

Listen to this. It’s hilarious. So a guy walks into a bar. A gay bar in Orlando on Latino night. He has an MCX and a 9mm — No, you haven’t heard this one before. That was a pipe bomb and New York. No, not that either. That was New Orleans and fire. Let me finish. — So a guy walks into the bar where all these Puerto Rican fags are dancing and drinking, maybe even kissing or something, and he starts shooting.

And I forgot to tell you. He’s called 9-1-1 to explain he’s doing it in the name of the Islamic State. So anyway, he kills 49 people and wounds 53. Almost every single one is queer. And here’s the hilarious thing, nobody says it’s anti-gay or terrorism. I mean, aren’t you just ROTFL? C’mon, you have to laugh.

I’m not making it up. It started as soon as they released his photo and name, and several men came forward identifying Omar Mateen as a gay man, or at least somebody who had sex with men. That’s when the US media changed gears and the narrative of “Terrorist Attack in Orlando” became a story about “One More Self-Loathing Faggot Bashes Other Queers.” Which is funny, because in France the coverage focused almost exclusively on terrorism. French media and politicians twisted themselves into knots to avoid mentioning that Pulse was a gay club and the dead were almost all unseemly queers.


If US queer activists didn’t put up much of a fuss at how the story shifted, it’s because we’d rather talk about anything besides religion, especially Islam, or even plain-old homophobia. Gun control quickly became the big story. Because nobody would ever think of plowing a truck into a crowd like they did in Nice and killing a scant hundred people that way.

Black Lives Matter, in an especially bizarro statement on its website, did a real intersectional number on Orlando. Denouncing anybody who blamed Islam even a tiny little bit for the attack, and explaining it was “… born from the anti-Black white supremacy, patriarchy and homophobia of the conservative right and of those who would use religious extremism as a weapon to gain power for the few and take power from the rest… Homegrown terror is the product of a long history of colonialism, including state and vigilante violence. It is the product of white supremacy and capitalism…”

I don’t know if it was their goal, but they seemed to imply that the victims, who were mostly Puerto Rican, weren’t really killed because they were unapologetically and even joyfully gay. Readers also might get the misleading impression that the killer was a white American. Not a Muslim American of Afghan origin who lived in terror of his fundamentalist Muslim Afghan father. And quite clearly announced that he was going to kill a bunch of people in the name of the Islamic State.


I still wasn’t prepared for the FBI to join the ranks of the jokers and declare that there was no evidence that Omar targeted Pulse because it was a gay club. It’s like they bought the whole fucked up homo-narrative that it was all about his mental health and personal history. So they threw up their hands when they didn’t discover any real evidence of his reportedly gay lifestyle that reportedly left him conflicted. No photos in his computer. No Grindr account. No “gay slurs during the shooting spree inside the club.”

So much for the dead gay bodies. And the 9-1-1 call, and his commitment to ISIS, which encourages good Muslims to kill us and regularly puts videos on YouTube of jihadis tossing queers out of windows and over balconies and parapets. For committing sodomy. For extramarital sex. Maybe most importantly, for polluting a pure and sacred apocalyptic Caliphate.

But why? Why? Why would Omar Mateen target Pulse?

What is everyone’s fucking problem? A guy goes into a synagogue or a black church and kills a bunch of people we know it’s anti-Semitic or anti-black and racist. We don’t need somebody to draw us a picture.

And it used to be that when somebody explained their act as terrorism we believed them as soon as we saw the blood. We didn’t ask for a membership card or a certificate of mental health. We certainly didn’t look for alternative explanations. Did you trip with your finger on the trigger? Were you playing Pokémon Go? Was it… capitalism?

Terrorism has always been a DIY operation with small cells run by borderline crazies. And post-social media, it’s easy to recruit worldwide. ISIS is brilliant in this regard. While Christianity produces queer killers pretty regularly, that was not the case here. And it does no good to look away. You can almost hear them chant, “We’re here, we kill queers. (And Jews and those secular French.) Get used to it.”

Kelly Cogswell is the author of “Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger,” from the University of Minnesota Press.