This is what happens when we don't promote respect and acceptance of diversity through knowledge and understanding. We encourage ignorance which promotes fear and hatred of people different from us. This is inexcusable. My heart goes out to the LGBTQ community and the victims of today's massacre in Orlando.
Calling this an act of terrorism or a gun tragedy or anything other than a hate crime is taking away from the LGBTQ community and almost making an excuse by blaming it on something else, distracting from the real issue. The fact of the matter is that as a society we have been doing this for generations. LGBTQ people have been murdered, beaten and raped (yes raped) just because they simply consensually love another person that a heteronormative culture does not approve of. Not to mention the countless amounts of discrimination they faced and continue to face on a daily basis. From marriage rights to lack of employment protection to getting something as inoffensive as a cake baked for their wedding. This is a hate crime and we have all been complicit in it.
As a nation we still treat our LGBTQ brothers and sisters as less than or something other than. Even with the Marriage Equality act they are still second class citizens. Then there is the astronomically high suicide rate among teens that are LGBTQ. As I write this, sexually active gay people are being denied the ability to donate blood to the victims in Orlando, but not sexually active straight people. The odds are stacked against anyone that is not "straight and normal" in our world and the systemic support is pretty much non-existent.
Can we make this a terrorism issue? Yes, of course. After all, the guy did claim allegiance to ISIS. Can we make this a gun issue? Absolutely. It was a gunman. He used guns. Can we make this a religious issue? Very much so. Much like the Westborough Baptist Church, ISIS is a fundamentalist extremist sect of a very popular world religion. Can we make this a political issue? Certainly. All the presidential hopefuls have all chimed in. But in the end, we are all avoiding the deeper issue; excused, acceptable, and defendable ignorance, hate and intolerance.
How many times have we called someone the "f" word. The one that ends with "g"? Or said "that's so gay"? Or heard someone else do it and not say anything? Furthermore, we don't stop to consider if the person saying it is with ISIS or what political party or religion they belong to. More often than not its excused, because its "just a joke".
You want to fight religious extremism? Fight ignorance first. Religious extremists need ignorance in order to brainwash people into following them and their warped beliefs. You want to put an end to gun violence? Fight ignorance first. We need responsible gun owners and not ignorant ones. Don't use the 2nd amendment right (which is how this gunman was able to acquire this weapon LEGALLY) to threaten others or as an excuse to constantly live in fear that someone may attack you. Banning guns won't make a difference, ignorance always finds a way. You want to fight homophobia? Fight ignorance first. Being afraid of people that are different from the majority is how we got the public lynchings during the first half of the 20th century.
We make excuses to defend our ignorance. We shield it under religious beliefs, politics, superstition, tradition, pseudoscience or morality. Its time to drop our defenses and open up and accept. Its the only way to learn and gain knowledge over our fear of the unknown, and its the only way to fight ignorance.