Orlando shooting, memorial, Stonewall Inn, New York City, flowers

5 More Important Developments Since The Orlando Shooting

Every day, we spend hours sifting through news coverage to bring you the most important developments about the Orlando shooting (check out our first and second days’ round-ups — we also have a selection of thoughtful healing essays, if the news is too much).

Here’s the best reporting we could find today, alongside our trademark analysis. We hope it informs your future conversations and interactions.

The Outpouring of Support Shows How Far LGBT Acceptance Has Come

After 32 LGBTQ people died in the 1973 fire in New Orleans’ UpStairs Lounge, most politicians and news outlets didn’t talk about it, no national businesses stepped in to help and some families were even too embarrassed to claim their relatives’ bodies. Now, 43 years later, many politicians have spoken out against the violence and businesses are helping out — in particular, Disney has donated $1,000,000 to the victims and Jet Blue is offering free plane rides to partners and family members affected by Sunday’s shooting.

One sad similarity between the Orlando Shooting and the 1973 Upstairs Lounge fire: In both instances some of the victims’ family members had no idea their loved ones were LGBTQ until after they died.

For those who feel less safe going out after Sunday, just know that the world is now more informed than ever of the dangers LGBTQ people face everyday. Plus, more queer people than ever feel emboldened to fight it — we are some of them.

Orlando shooting, heroes, Michael Napolitano, Imran Yosuf, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool
From top left to right: Police officer Michael Napolitano and the helmet that saved him, bouncer Imran Yosuf and heroic mother Brenda Lee Marquez McCool

Three More Heroes Emerge

Early reports mentioned a police officer whose life had been saved by a Kevlar helmet; the officer’s name is Michael Napolitano and he’s got a nasty bruise where the shooter’s bullet struck his helmet, but he’s alive.

Moreso, we’re loving the story of Imran Yousuf, a bouncer and ex-Marine who recognized the sound of gunfire and helped about 70 people escape the Pulse nightclub after the shooting began. He has reportedly shunned media attention to help keep the focus on the victims’ friends and family.

But the most heartbreaking story is about Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, a 49-year-old mother from Brooklyn who sacrificed herself by shielding her son Isaiah from the bullets, thus saving his life.

The Shooter MIGHT’VE Been Gay or Bisexual, But That Misses A Larger Point

To be honest, we wondered if the shooter was a self-hating man-lover from the outset. But sexuality writer and NYU American studies professor Lisa Duggan raises an excellent point:

“The news about Mateen in gay clubs and on gay dating/sex apps does not mean he was “really” gay, a self-hating gay man. It means he responded to his own queer desire, present in everyone, with the violence promoted by the toxic masculinity he was invested in… That toxic masculinity lives in the militarism of his G4S employment, his admiration for NYPD, in his interpretation of religion, and elsewhere. That toxic masculinity violently suppresses femininity in men, as well as queerness. It wipes out sensitivity and tenderness, with dominance and guns.”

As a Unicorn Booty reader commented, “Nothing is more deadly than hating yourself.”

Why It’s Best Not To Focus On The Killer’s Name or His Alleged Ties To Daesh/ISIS

When a school shooting happens, experts always suggest not mentioning the shooter’s name because it provides them fame and potentially inspires copycats. We agree and so we won’t ever mentioning his name.

Yesterday, we also compared the Orlando Shooting to the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre stating that both were unilateral acts of war against disenfranchised minorities. But perhaps it’s a mistake to see the shooter as a part of Daesh/ISIS.

While the Orlando shooter called 20 minutes into the shooting to say he was affiliated with Daesh/ISIS, as it turns out, anyone can do that. As New York Times journalist Rukmini Callimachi announced in in a series of tweets following the shooting:

It’s important to understand the role so-called “Lone Wolves” play in ISIS’ mission of spreading terror, which is often misunderstood. As early as 2014, ISIS explained that *anyone* could carry out an act of terror in their name. “Do not ask for permission,” Adnani said. They later codified this, and advised that their supporters should pledge allegiance in a public forum, before carrying out the attack. Idea is simple: ISIS floods the internet with their gory propaganda hoping to incite anyone inc the mentally unwell, then claims credit

Considering that the shooter’s father even said that the shooter wasn’t particularly religious, focusing on Daesh/ISIS gives them undue legitimacy while also furthering the Islamophobic narrative about Muslims hating gays; as we’ve said, we’re better off focusing on the toxic effects of anti-LGBTQ hate speech and assault weapons availability in the U.S.. Besides, anti-gay right-wing politicians have long used Islamophobia to pit the Muslim and LGBTQ communities against one another.

The FBI Has Teamed Up With LGBTQIA and Muslim Groups To Investigate

According to The Guardian, the FBI had a conference call with “the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security [and] 358 civil-rights-minded leaders, particularly from the LGBT and American Muslim groups to share information and hear concerns.” During the call, Muslim leaders reportedly voiced support for LGBTQ communities. 

Granted, the F.B.I. has a long history of suppressing LGBTQ and minority activism. But even though investigators already know the shooter’s identity, a larger investigation will help better understand his motives, identify larger networks of violence and help federal investigators create a more accurate mental health profile of possible “lone wolves” who might try to harm LGBTQIA people in the future.