The homophobic massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, last Sunday horrified people across the world. So did attempts to turn the anger into racism against Muslims.
Thousands of people joined one of many vigils outside the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, on Monday.
The Stonewall Riot there in 1969 marked the birth of the Gay Liberation Movement.
Tom Duane, who was the first openly LGBT New York State senator, told the crowd, “We have to stand against the anti-Muslim garbage that some people spew—look where it’s got us.
“It’s not enough that we feel safe here in New York—trans people and people of colour face danger every day.”
Daisy Jesus was on the first Pride march in Greenwich Village in June 1970.
“We’ve been through Islamophobia and we’ve had enough of it,” she said.
“After 9/11 you stopped seeing Muslim families in the park—they were being beaten up, people threw cans and bottles at them.
“It took six years before you really saw Muslim women and children at the park again. We don’t want this to happen again.”
As Noor Al-Khaled, an LGBT+ Muslim in Oregon, told Socialist Worker, “There’s a lot of fear in the Muslim community.
“The majority of it is subtle or moderate—nasty looks, refusal to sit by us on a bus or in a theatre, yelled slurs, curses, insults from cars, vandalism of mosques.
“But there are a growing number of physical attacks or arson.
“I’ll be honest, there’s not many places I feel safe as a visibly Muslim person wearing the hijab or niqab.
Noor added, “LGBTQ Muslims are out there and we are hurting too—we are facing homophobia and Islamophobia and desperately need support and love.
“It’s incredibly important to try to educate people, share information and fight against laws, politicians and pundits that push a certain rhetoric.”
Cynical politicians are part of the problem
Politicians in the US are trying to use the Orlando massacre to their advantage. But many LGBT+ people are rejecting their lies.
On the vigil in Greenwich Village in New York, Wendy was angry at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump using the attack to frame Barak Obama as a “Muslim terrorist collaborator”.
“Trump is racist and dangerous and he mocks legitimate comment,” she said.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticised the worst aspects of Trump’s response.
But she used the tragedy to justify plans for “ramping up the air campaign” against Isis.
Clinton said she was an LGBT+ ally, but Clinton only came out for equal marriage after public opinion shifted. And she said nothing about US homophobia in her speech.
Natalie Lewis from Harlem in New York said, “This is a sign that we need more unity and more political accountability.
“We’re demanding that those who need to be exposed are exposed.
“Our grandparents pushed things forward for us and now we have to do the same.
“America needs to get back on the right side of history.”
Activist Ann Northrop drew cheers when she reminded the crowd of the homophobic bills being pushed by politicians in the US.
“This massacre did not happen in a vacuum,” she said.