LGBT communities around the world are in grief this week at the brutal attack in Orlando which left 49 dead and over 50 wounded. Vigils were held around the world to commemorate the lives of people who just wanted to dance and party. But, as a long-time gay rights activist, and someone who marched in Toronto’s gay pride parade back in 1983, I just couldn’t attend the ceremony in Ottawa.
It’s not that I didn’t oppose the homophobia that drove Mateen to walk into a gay nightclub and start shooting, and it’s not that I didn’t want to show solidarity with my brothers and sisters. It’s just that I knew that the gay establishment would use this horrible tragedy to push its own narrative on the ‘never-ending’ Canadian scourge of homophobia, transphobia and sexism.
I wasn’t disappointed. The invite to the Ottawa vigil said that the community “also denounces any form of islamophobic, xenophobic, or racist actions. In times of struggle, it is essential to stay united. We must ensure that spaces like these stay safe to the Muslim community.”
In Toronto, Kathleen Wynne said, “let’s not pretend that we have no homophobia, let’s not pretend that we have no racism, and let’s not pretend that we have no sexism.”
Kristyn Wong-Tam, Toronto city councillor, called Mateen’s act “senseless” and that “our social miracle in Ontario cannot be taken for granted.” She then introduced her queer Muslim fiancée, and told the crowd that “when people hate Muslims, they hate us.”
Wong-Tam concluded that “when we see something, we will speak up.”
Except that she doesn’t and she won’t. And, that’s the problem...
See also: Orlando, the gay 9/11, changes everything