I know Omar Mateen. I have seen him before.
He was that classmate who constantly joked that I am into kissing boys, who sniggered behind my back and called me gay. First to push me in the school hallway, first to throw a punch when I was already down.
He was the father who never hesitated to teach his son that liking boys is wrong, after beating him senselessly for being too sissy, for being too weak.
I have seen his online posts before, praising an American serviceman who killed a transgender woman a hero. His sharp, spiteful words have shut close toilet doors for transgender people.
I know Omar Mateen. I heard him speak before. From his pulpit he called me out, said he loves me, said I will burn in hell.
His disgust for two men kissing – I felt that before. I felt disgusted with myself, hated myself, for wanting to kiss other boys. Made me wash my mouth with soap, made me stay inside the closet for too long. Made me hate others who are like myself.
I know Omar Mateen, oh I know him. That hatred against the image of two men kissing is profoundly familiar.
There are many communities worldwide who know the suffering it causes, who experience its senselessness just because of who they are. For whom hatred and terror are the same thing. There are too many Orlandos already, way too many. Sometimes inspired by the fear of two men kissing, or a woman in hijab. Fear of black men and women who suffer from the indignity of needing to raise their arms to prove they mean no harm.
We could have stopped Omar Mateen. But we are too busy hating, too busy fearing.
(Image from http://www.homohistory.com)
Many thanks to Huffington Post for re-posting this piece.