Monday, June 13, 2016
When the Right Wing Media Tries to Deny the Reality of Homophobia
I attended this memorial in Toronto last night to remember the victims of the Orlando massacre.
And although it was a beautiful peaceful event, afterwards I couldn't help but notice the anger of some of the LGBT people who attended.
Anger over the fact that some in the media are trying to downplay the homophobic nature of the attack.
And trying to make it sound it was just an ISIS inspired attack on Western values.
The Star columnist Emma Teitel writes about that here.
Since Sunday’s shooting in Orlando, Florida — the deadliest in U.S. history — far too many people are downplaying the virulent homophobia at the heart of the massacre. The only problem worth discussing and eradicating, they argue, is Islamic terrorism—a threat to us all — not homophobia, a threat to some.
Teitel who is a lesbian, attributes part of the problem to the mistaken belief that homophobia is no longer a major problem in Western societies. When in fact that's just not true even in Canada.
I consider myself among the luckiest gays on earth and I don’t know a single same-sex-attracted person or trans person who has not at some point in his or her life been the target of verbal or physical abuse by a stranger. I don’t know a single gay male couple that shows affection in public when they are not in a hip, progressive downtown neighbourhood — or among friends.
And the way some in the media are echoing that mistaken belief, and downplaying homophobia, is making a lot of LGBT people feel even more threatened, and angry.
Hence the massive emotional response from LGBTQ communities across the continent, and the anger at those who would dare suggest that this massacre has everything to do with homegrown Islamic radicalization and nothing at all to do with homegrown homophobia.
And explains why when Owen Jones, a Guardian columnist who is also gay, was confronted with that argument by two right-wing hosts on Rupert Murdoch's Sky television channel on Sunday night, he walked off the set.
And later explained why he did that in this column.
I am reluctant to dwell too much on my appearance on Sky News last night, because this isn’t about me, so let’s just use it as a case study. In sum, I walked off in disgust during a discussion about the massacre: it was an instinctive reaction to an unpleasant and untenable situation. The presenter continually and repeatedly refused to accept that this was an attack on LGBT people. This was an attack “against human beings”, he said, and “the freedom of all people to try to enjoy themselves”. He not only refused to accept it as an attack on LGBT people, but was increasingly agitated that I – as a gay man – would claim it as such.
If a terrorist with a track record of expressing hatred of and disgust at Jewish people had walked into a synagogue and murdered 50 Jewish people, we would rightly describe it as both terrorism and an antisemitic attack. If a Jewish guest on television had tried to describe it as such, it would be disgraceful if they were not only contradicted, but shouted down as they did so. But this is what happened on Sky News with a gay man talking about the mass murder of LGBT people.
And I completely agree with him, there does seem to be a double standard. And the reason I believe the right-wingers are doing that, is because many of them are guilty about their own homophobia.
And as Jones points out, it gets in the way of a more convenient narrative: It's all the fault of those nasty Muslims who are waging war on all of us.
Today, the “we only care about LGBT rights if Muslims are involved” brigade are out in force. As a gay man, I am proud to live in a city represented by a Muslim mayor who has faced death threats for supporting and voting for LGBT people to have the same rights as everybody else. The bigots must not be allowed to hijack this atrocity.
And the good news?
Despite the best efforts of the right-wing media, the gay people and their friends who died in that attack are being remembered all over the world.
So the message is getting out. It was a terrorist attack, but its homicidal fury was aimed at LGBT people.
Which is good, because to ignore that can only inflict more pain on gay people everywhere, and make them feel that even after a massacre like the one in Orlando, they are still being marginalized. Still being treated as less than human.
And that their tragedy is just being used to attack other vulnerable groups.
Which would be the worst way to remember the dead.
And simply cannot be allowed to happen...
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