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An Open Letter to the Cis Straight Media on Orlando

An Open Letter to the Cis Straight Media on Orlando

An Open Letter to the Cis Straight Media on Orlando

Cis straight people need to check themselves, and let the LGBT community control this conversation. 


Photo: Yannick Delva 

Dear cis straight media,

Y’all seem to want to help. Many of you seem to be scared and upset by what happened in Orlando. I feel like you have good intentions when covering and talking about the tragedy that took 49 lives, especially since a lot of straight people are ignoring that it even happened, but those of you who are involved aren’t helping in the ways the LGBT community needs you to. During a time like this, the best thing you can do for those who are most impacted is to listen and shift the conversation in a few ways. And here are a few things we need to talk about:

First of all, we need to talk about violent masculinity and the fact that the common thread amongst many mass shooters is that they identify as straight men. I’m not suggesting that we villianize men when doing this. I’m not inferring that cis straight men are inherently bad or untrustworthy. I am not attempting to blame his actions solely on his maleness. But if you care about your country, the LGBT community, and the future of many innocent lives that could be lost, we need to start talking about how patriarchy, male insecurities, and easy access to guns impacts men and those who identify as masculine. Maybe you don’t want to recognize this reality because you know someone like this man. Or maybe you are unwilling to check your own toxic ideas of what masculinity is. Or maybe you're afraid that if you recognize you possess some of these ideas, then you have something in common with a mass murder. Is that really worth continuing to ignore and in turn normalizing core concepts amongst these catastrophes?

We need to talk about the homophobia of the shooter.  Internalized homophobia or not, Omar Mateen was homophobic. 'Islamic sodier' or not, Mateen hated gay people and/or potentially himself for something as minute as a sexual orientation. Yes, hating gay and trans people ties directly into toxic masculinity, but it is also just pure ignorance for some. By continuing to discount the fact that this was rooted in anything other than homophobia, the cis straight media is helping maintain it. You are not helping anyone by continuing to allow people to turn their heads and justify these deaths as an Islamic, terrorist attack on American soil. We all know that Omar would’ve done this in the name of anything that would justify his actions. This isn’t about ISIS. This is about homophobia and easy access to guns. 

We need to talk about Islamaphobia. There is no fucking way that you will use the queer community as a vessel of war or as a means to create more Islamophobia in this country. NO. Just stop it. If the people most impacted by this atrocity can react in a way which is not anti-Muslim, you better believe you can and you will. We will not allow more hate to be created in the name of our community.

We need to talk abut the fact that it took three hours for the police to enter Pulse and kill the shooter. Maybe it’s protocol to wait this long before entering a hostage situation (I know the same thing happened in Paris), but to be frank, I don’t care if it’s protocol. It’s cowardly. This method is merely a way to keep the shooter contained without thinking about the innocent lives being lost while trapped inside. How hard is it to get in there and find the one person with massive guns? Ya know, the dude walking around shooting people? Cops don’t seem to hesitate when or take any issue with shooting and killing a 12-year-old African-American boy for holding a toy gun, but they wait three fucking hours to act when someone is running around and actively murdering people in a club? If we aren’t going to get stronger gun policies in this country, how about we start talking about and pushing more effective ways to save lives in situations like these? How about we stop celebrating the inconsistencies of police forces? This tragedy is going to happen again if things don’t change, and we need to challenge those who are supposed to be “serving and protecting."

Lastly, we need to talk about erasing trans identities. Trans people were at Pulse that unfortunate night (two of the club's headliners identified as trans), and their lives were impacted by this awful tragedy, too. So many trans lives are already erased, so the straight cis media doesn't have to disrespect and make them even more invisible in their "memorializing." Stop erasing trans people. 


Basil Soper, a Queer+Trans member of the LGBT community

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