I am a huge fan of the New York Times, have been for decades, the liberal newspaper that drives the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News to apoplexy for its wildly “librul” coverage.  In some archaic throwback to a time when the internet consisted of CompuServe and Prodigy (Google them) I still get the Times delivered to my front porch wrapped in blue plastic every day despite the ridiculous expense.   Unlike the Washington Post, my other daily news source (I am a DC resident, after all), the NYT consistently outshines virtually every other newspaper on the planet for the literary quality of the paper’s articles.  They are a pleasure to read.

But this morning (Sunday, Father’s Day) I was struck by an article entitled “‘Always Agitated. Always Mad’: Omar Mateen, According to Those Who Knew Him”  that in typically thorough NYT fashion, chronicles the many examples of anger Omar Mateen exhibited to his classmates, friends, wives and workmates beginning in elementary school and continuing through adulthood.  It is a fairly damning picture of a man who had “anger issues,” as we term his personal relationships in today’s pop psychology terms.  This depiction places Mateen and his murderous actions more in the category of a Seung Hui Cho who massacred 32 at Virginia Tech back in 2007 or a James Eagan Holmes, of the Century Theater fame in Aurora, Colorado, that left 24 people dead in 2012. 

The Times article is long, thorough and full of quotes from Mateen’s teachers, co-workers, friends and ex-wives attesting to his violent and inappropriate responses to 9-11, student taunts and innocent barbs from co-workers and certainly raises the specter of a man who – like Cho and Holmes – simply snapped for some mysterious, unknown and ultimately unknowable reason or reasons. 

But what surprised me was the total black-out in the article about Mateen’s attendance at gay nightclub Pulse for three years. Or his visit to Disney World’s Gay Days or his use of gay hook-up apps to contact and chat with other gay men.  In fact, the terms “gay” and “homosexual” do not appear in this lengthy article.  Why not? I have to ask.  Sure, the stories from other Pulse patrons who saw him there are largely unsubstantiated – as far as I know there are no photos or cell phone pics of him at Pulse prior to the early morning of June 12, 2016 – but are these recollections simply to be ignored?  Is it because they come from gay men and women that they are dismissed as wildly unreliable?  Are the gays simply trying to bring attention to themselves as an act of vengeance upon the larger society? 

As for me, I maintain that Omar Mateen’s “story” is woefully incomplete without reference to his forays into the gay world.  As a Muslim man who was nominally heterosexual (he was married, had children), he was apparently conflicted about his sexuality.  I don’t think there can be any argument against this.  Even his ex-wife has stated that she thought he was gay.  That Mateen led a troubled life is by now well documented and more incidents keep coming to the surface that reinforces just how turbulent his childhood and his adult life was.  [Daily Beast:  Unhinged]

But I have to come back to the same question:  “Why A Gay Nightclub?”  Was it only Islam’s strictures against homosexuals that “set him off” and caused him to choose Pulse to slaughter 49 men and women?  Yes, in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran being gay can be a death sentence despite that fact that there is a thriving gay underground in all three of these Muslim states.  Not so among the Muslim community here in the United States.  Yes, homosexuality is not accepted.  It can cause family strife.  It can result in personal trauma for Muslim gay men and women.  But Mateen’s struggles were personal.   The clearest indication that his rampage was personal is his selection of Pulse, a gay nightclub that he was familiar with.  This accords with the “selection” of Virginia Tech by Cho, his own university or the “selection” of Columbine High School, the very school that both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attended.  In both of these cases – and in many similar cases of mass shootings – the choice of venue to take murderous revenge against real or imagined insults and crimes perpetrated against the shooters, was not some random or spur of the moment decision.  They were chosen because of the connections the shooters had with them.

And so too with Omar Mateen.  There was nothing random about his choice of Pulse.  And to ignore this as today’s New York Times article did, is not only to ignore the powerful forces that sexual identity conflicts can wreck upon an individual but also serves to demean the plight of gay men and woman who have faced and continue to face attacks from bigots, haters, conservatives and the “Family Values” folks to strip them of their personal rights and humanity on a daily basis as Religious Freedom Acts and Bathroom Bills so amply illustrate.  So let’s end the fictional narrative that this angry, violent, conflicted Muslim man was a “self-radicalized Islamist terrorist” who chose a gay nightclub to affirm his devotion to ISIS and/or Hezbollah and/or Al Qaeda or to demonstrate his affirmation of Islam’s hatred for “the gays.”   No.  Whatever role Islam might have played in Mateen’s murderous rampage, as comforting and acceptable this explanation might be for America, it is simply not the whole story.  And the pivot away from a self-hating, closeted homosexual driven by his own, personal warfare with himself, only dismisses and demeans the LGBT community.   

Have a good day despite all this shit.


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