Wednesday, June 22, 2016
As pundits everywhere struggle to understand what motivated Omar Mateen to shoot scores of people in an Orlando gay nightclub, we see an ideological split among folks of different political persuasions. Was it Islamic radicalism? Was it hatred of gays? The left wing tends to want to pin it on homophobia, while the right wants to pin it on Islamism, each according to their own political agenda. Blogger and Christian culture warrior crude, naturally, is in the latter category. In a recent post, he manages to make a slam against gay culture while at the same time ridiculing the notion that the attack was the product of anything but Islamism.
It seems reasonable to me that the real picture is more nuanced than either side may be willing to admit. There is good reason to think that Mateen was homophobic - after all, he chose to target gay people in his attack. At the same time evidence indicates that he was gay. Also, Mateen publicly declared that he conducted this attack in support of ISIS, in retaliation for the people killed by US air attacks. But he was a US citizen, born and raised in America. And by the way, America, with its predominantly Christian culture, is where he learned to be homophobic. So there seems to be at least some merit to the claim that our Christian culture might have had something to do with it.
But how can a person be both gay and homophobic? As far as I can tell, it's not at all uncommon. Being raised in a religious society is enough to make many people homophobic. All they have to do is listen to their parents, pastors, the street preachers, the politicians, and their peers who pressure or bully people into conformity. This is true whether they are Christian or Muslim, or anything else. It is simply part of being a member of our society. But none of that changes the fact that some percentage of people will turn out to be gay despite what they have been taught or what their religious beliefs are. Those who are gay and who have been inculcated with strong anti-gay beliefs are in an unfortunate position of being deeply conflicted, ashamed of who they are, or even hating themselves for being gay.
Often, we see that people in this situation of self-loathing will turn their hatred against the entire gay community. They become outspoken anti-gay social warriors or crusaders against gay rights. Such is the case, for example with prominent anti-gay preachers like Ted Haggard, or "family values" politicians like Larry Craig. Actually, the number of outspoken anti-gay leaders who turn out to be gay themselves is startling. One gets the idea that the more vociferous they are, the more likely it is that they are gay themselves, even if they refuse to admit it. But their anger toward the gay community seems to be a cover for their own self-loathing. It's a way of trying to hide the truth of who they are.
But of course, not all gay homophobes are community leaders. They express their hatred in different ways Some may commit acts of violence. This could well be the case with Omar Mateen. It is possible that his outward expression of solidarity with ISIS may be nothing more than an attempt to cover his identity as a homophobic gay man.
There may be many others whose gay identity we will never discover. Perhaps some of them are bloggers. There are some who persistently rail against gay people and gay rights - some who seem to be obsessed with it. Which brings us back to crude. I have no idea what his sexual orientation is, and I'm not making any claims about it, but he does make a lot of posts expressing his anti-gay sentiments. Scores of them, in fact. From expressing ambivalence toward the victims at Orlando, to castigating his fellow Christians for not hating gays enough, to castigating one fellow Christian for damaging the cause by being too overt in his hatred. He even raises the question of self-hatred at one point. What we have here is a real anti-gay culture warrior. Just saying.