Orlando: a homophobic massacre in a rotten society

On the night of the 11th of June, Omar Mateen burst in the “Pulse”, a gay club in Orlando, Florida. Before being shot by the police, he methodically murdered 49 men and women and wounded 53 more. The victims, most of them young Latinos and Latinas, were targeted because of their sexual orientation or their sympathies for gay, lesbians and transgender people. The killer claims he was acting on behalf of the Islamic State (Daesh), a Jihadi organization infamous for their innumerable murders of LGBT people in Syria and Iraq. The organization claims it was responsible for the killing in order to capitalize on the publicity.

All the politicians declared quickly it was a “terrorist” act ordered from abroad and aimed to attack American “values”. Those of the Republican party among them billionaire Donald Trump strengthened their usual anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-gun control rhetoric... Intentionally not mentioning the sexual orientation of the victims because of their constituency being traditionally homophobic.

Rather than a jihadist, Omar Mateen was the monstrous byproduct of a decomposing capitalist society. His pledge to Daesh was surely a plot to associate his crime with a “prestigious” cause. Born in the United States of Afghani parents, Mateen was a macho man who despised the LGBT community. He was reactionary scum who cherished the police and was used to using racial slurs against Latinos and Blacks. Mateen had a lot in common with other scum, whether racial supremacist or christian fundamentalist, like this Baptist priest who declared hours after the shooting: “[Am I] sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? Um no. I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight”.

Before Orlando the homophobic attack that claimed the most lives in the United States was on the 24th of June 1973, when a fire bomb had destroyed the “UpStairs Lounge”, a gay bar in New Orleans: 32 men had died either suffocating, burned alive or died from their wounds. Far from being emotionally touched, the reactionary public opinion and the authorities proved themselves shamelessly inhuman: jokes about the victims had circulated reprinted in the local press ironically writing about “bodies stacked up like pancakes”, and the police quickly closed the case after making several homophobic statements. Ashamed of their dead, some families did not claimed the bodies of their loved ones who were buried in the common lot.

This old crime tells us something about the infamous “clash of civilizations”, an invention that leaders of imperialist countries use to justify their xenophobic policies and the war they are leading in poor countries. Today in some American States being gay is still a cause for job termination and shop owners can legally refuse to serve gay customers. If the pundits of the Democratic party flatter themselves with legalizing gay marriage through the Supreme Court, it does not protect the vast majority of working class gay and lesbians: in the United States like in the rest of the world, to publicly claim what is a natural sexual orientation, is still the subject of threats and insults, all the more when you are experiencing the life of a proletarian; it can lead you to the hospital or the morgue.

The Orlando victims thought they were safe in a gay club and allowed to escape their everyday struggle. These kind of places benefit from the stigmatization of homosexuality which provides them with captive patrons. When the emergency vehicle lights were turned off near the “Pulse”, homophobia was still there, and one media source reported this story: that a man would have to mourn in secret the death of his partner because he did not tell his catholic family about his homosexuality.

Homophobia is the most spread out racism in the world, a racism that also has something to do with the multimillennial oppression of women. Through the centuries, both these forms of oppression were considered to be simple facts of nature whether this was supported by mystical or pseudo-scientific ideologies. Religions still play this role in many countries, especially among the needy, as a vehicle for superstition and arbitrary rules. And if we denounce the demagogues who in the US and Europe point the finger to Muslims as potential terror threats and spread racist poison in the working class, we shall never cease to fight religious propaganda and its defenders, whichever god they claim to be acting in the name of, each time they oppose the emancipation of women and gays, and each time they preach the acceptation of the existing social order.

The fight against homophobia and other forms of oppression is the fight of all workingmen and women conscious of their interest. It is the fight of a social class that refuses to be divided by its enemies, and thus prides itself in its own diversity[1]. This working class by seizing its future into its own hands will have the task not only to rid itself from capitalist exploitation but also to rid mankind of prejudices, violence and obscurantism which have accompanied the ruling of the bourgeoisie and propertied classes for centuries.

For us and for all clear-minded working class militants, the struggle for the liberation of lesbians, gays, bis and transgender people is the same fight as the struggle for Socialism.

André Slava
translation : Stan Miller

[1] This text was written by a gay communist worker, proud to be all of this.

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