QUEER VOICES
06/13/2016 03:49 pm ET Updated Jun 15, 2016

Can We Please Stop Pretending This Massacre Wasn't About Homophobia?

We are done being erased.
Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

With less than two days between us and the slaughter of 49 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida -- during Pride month, no less -- the pain only seems to be getting worse within our community.

But as we begin the process of healing, we must now deal with the non-queer, mainstream public trying to process something that we, as queer, have always known: people hate us simply for existing as we are in the world.

The reality is we now must face how the media is reporting on this issue -- and call it out when they erase the queerness of the victims who suffered in this massacre. And, predictably, many outlets are refusing to center the conversation around exactly what this is: a homophobic, transphobic, racist attack against the LGBT community.

The below interview took place on Sky News Sunday, with two of the participants attempting to center the conversation as a hate crime against humanity and pushing back against openly-LGBT journalist Owen Jones when he argued otherwise.

Additionally, through print media coverage today, we can see conversations centered around the shooter's ISIS ties -- with no (or only a cursory) mention of the targeted nature of the attack against the LGBT community.

Few things, to me, feel quite as painful as the erasure of the sexual and gender identities of the victims when it comes to reporting on this attack. 

We as LGBT people spent decades being told that we don't exist or that our lives do not matter. We've been murdered in the streets and incarcerated for trying to live authentically as who we are. When we were dying by the thousands from AIDS in the 1980s and 1990s, those in positions of power turned a blind eye.

And now, when we are slaughtered in a nightclub -- historically the pinnacle of safe space and community for queer people -- the world is trying to erase us once again.

Let me say this loud and clear: this was an invasion and massacre of the queer community.

If you have trouble understanding the idea of a nightclub as a safe, sacred space, then you've clearly never been made to feel like your love is illegitimate, incorrect and something that should be hidden away from the world. You've clearly never needed a safe space. We always have. 

But we will not hide anymore and we will not allow the media -- or anyone -- to erase what this situation is really about: 49 queer and trans people, mostly of color, slaughtered in their sacred space during the one time of the year when we are supposedly celebrated by the public.

And if your reporting or conversation is not centered around that idea, then you should do some serious self-reflection. Ask yourself, why am I having trouble accepting that part of the narrative? Why do I so deeply deny that someone could be driven to do something so horrific over an immutable aspect of another's identity?

We are here, we are queer, we are not afraid -- and we will not be silent.

Donate to the Pulse Orlando relief fund here:

CONVERSATIONS