The Pulse Murders and Gay Cops
–all the trigger warnings–
[Note this was written before a lot of the subsequent information came out about for example that he was actually closeted himself. I left this piece in tact rather than re-editing though for a number of reasons]
I’m angry. This is a sad and angry post. I’m more sad that I’m not sadder. I’m more angry because I’m tired. But here are some thoughts on homonationalism, complex trauma, assimilation, murder, and the gay cop whose not your friend.
Learning the Ropes
I got beaten as a kid. Not regularly and generally not severely (we could argue whether child abuse is ever anything less than severe but you catch my drift) but certainly enough to have messed with me. But not a single other time compared to the savagery of one particular incident where I managed, in my youthful innocence, to simultaneously offend both nationalism and heteronormativity. We were watching a parade. I believe it was a fourth of july parade. I couldn’t have been more than 7 years old but I believe I was younger. At one point the national anthem came on and people were supposed to be silent and put their hands to their heart to commemorate fallen soldiers. I had no real concept of any of this. What I chose to do instead was to dance about and sing. My youthful faggotry combined with my unknowing disrespect must have caused a scene amongst the people surrounding us because my step-father took it upon himself to drag me behind a bush (close enough that people knew but concealed enough that they couldn’t see) where he proceeded to remove my pants and beat me mercilessly with a belt. I had no idea for what I was even being punished. I just knew the cruelness of it. I felt the injustice of it. I think my anti-authoritarianism and anti-nationalism began in that moment but I know for certain that my fear of violence against queerness certainly was encoded. There is something about this story that I feel is important to point out. It was only the combination that warranted the beating. Had I just been distracted but not queerly behaving I may have been scolded, had I just been gay but not disrespectful of the nationalism, I also would have been fine. But, something about the combination of queerness and disrespect for military nationalist tradition caused my guardian such intense shame that he felt the need to beat me worse than he ever did before or after. Now this is interesting. Had I been an assimilated nationalist gay I would have been tolerated. Had I been a distracted child I would have been tolerated. But a publicly disrespectful faggot was a crime that warranted, both socially and internally to my father, the most severe of immediate punishment. Could it be that gayness is anti-nationalist? Not quite. My gayness or my disrespect could have been misattributed to youth. I believe however the combination of innocence, anti-nationalism, and what I will instead refer to as “queerness” presented a real enough threat to the sacredness of the moment that any basic morality around the sanctity of a child’s space and safety could be heinously violated. Queerness here does not refer to non-binaryness of one’s gender or haircut but rather to one’s ability to disrupt assumptions and create drift in hetero and cis-normative logics and the carceral state that upholds them. This is a queerness that joyously promotes ontological crises.
Homonationalism as Gay-Violence Against Queers
To be a gay nationalist is to be a real patriot in the sense of killing queers. Killing queers, us aberrations of socio-political control, is lightening the load of the state which is really what patriotism is all about. Being a patriot is doing your part in the creation of hegemony through the repression of difference. Kill a gay today and maybe you’ll be elected mayor tomorrow. Not in a blue state though. They prefer to do it through hidden policies that destroy avenues rather than through the more classless bigotry of the right. Liberals are far too smart to be known as what they are; the left arm of statist violence. But then again, it takes two arms to hug and two hands to choke so what would the liberals be without the conservatives who feed them and vice-versa.
The assimilated gay is the symbol of our betrayal. The assimilated gay is an asset to the state project of eradication. The assimilated gay votes Trump or Hilary knowing that it won’t hurt them either way. They are the perfect capitalist. They are two cis-white males exploiting every pay disparity available to them. Their children will be the beacon of success for overcoming obstacles in their school. People will marvel at the ability of such gay people to create such perfect little nationalist soldiers. If their children kill or rape their women, they’ll have learned it from their daddies. Their daddies will be so proud as they defend their children’s “20 minutes of action”.
The assimilated gay is the indigenous elite of yester-colonialisms. It is the betrayer of people who cooperates with the state to create relative prosperity for their immediate circle at the expense of literally everyone else around them. They are the prisoner who cooperates with the state to abuse the transwomen in their block and secure their position of relative safety. They are the ideal capitalist. If everyone only acted in their own self interest with greater game-theoretical consistency capitalism would work out perfectly Mr. Adam Smith. But alas, maybe it has. Maybe this is the equality and freedom of which you and your peers dreamt. A self-propelling machine which, at increasingly higher levels of efficiency, simultaneously murders and washes it’s own hands of the blood. It’s a grisly but brilliant spectacle. In goes the knife and down flows the sanitizer. The machine smiles with unbridled optimism like the cop who knows he’ll be rewarded with anonymous donations for his murder of unarmed black civilians. The patriots will always do the dirty work of the state. The gays are becoming good patriots as they become citizens. Soon enough the assimilated gay elite will be the focal point of American success. They will be the badge. They will wear the blue and vote the red. The more of us they can kill the greater their assurance of safety.
In Tucson, Arizona there was a vigil for the murders at Pulse club. In this vigil two anarch@-queers were arrested for trespassing because they were protesting that the sheriff was invited to speak at the vigil as is customary in state-sanctioned mournings. He is supposed to give a sense of safety but rather he is a symbol of so much of what we fear. That he is a married gay himself just serves betrayal with insult. Fuck gay cops and homonationalism.
On the Murders at “Pulse” Gay Club in Orlando and “Extremism”
As I lie beside a friend in bed who was expressing their sadness, I responded that I really felt none. At that moment at least it was true. The murder of 50 mostly queer people of color and injury of at least 50 others to me seems just the logical conclusion of competing nationalisms and various vying supremacy movements. I was however saddened when I found out later that it was Latinx night. I rarely mourn for our trans dead anymore. I haven’t the time or the rituals. This is the root of complex trauma and I know this, but that doesn’t change me not having the time or space. The way I figure it, my ex boyfriend and I do each others work for each other. He, a black queer man, can only mourn the slain transwomen. I, a white queer transwoman, mourn the slain black men. It’s too hard to mourn my own. It requires too much recognition of my own vulnerability. Plus it’s just exhausting, at a certain point I can’t even keep track of the names of the dead and it all begins to feel like a charade.
That the killer was Muslim and that da3esh claimed responsibility means little to to me other than another wave of nationalism and white supremacy disguised as national security. It means more dead to mourn on their way, more friends to protect in the process. Did you know that violence can become mundane? That one can get used to death and murder? It happens but it happens very slowly. It’s an insidious dullness. It’s the moment where I didn’t feel sad because I’ve been around too much unnecessary death. “Good thing I left the Syrian border” I think bitterly. Of course da3esh will claim it. They are the bottom feeders of nationalist misery. They are the moribund offspring of Western international colonialism coupled with the seemingly endless supply of Middle Eastern authoritarians to repress the rich history of dissent and education across the region. I’ll say this in capital letters so the liberals in the back can hear, “FUCK AUTHORITARIANISM AND NATIONALISM EVEN IF IT COMES FROM PEOPLE OF COLOR. DON’T FORGET THE FIRST PEOPLE THEY USUALLY KILL ARE OTHER PEOPLE OF COLOR.” The so called islamic state is a perfect example. Give authoritarians muslims power and the first people they kill are Muslims. If you’re a white Christian and you’re afraid of da3esh consider the plight of the tens of thousands of Muslims who fled from their carnage. The thing about an organization like da3sh is that they can just propagate the ideas, and like any other state, their people will do all the work for them. Did you know that the ISIS mythos depends on a notion of the complete ethical purity of Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called Caliph of the Islamic State? What a fucking sick joke. So just like a white-nationalist who burns down or shoots up a black church, your safety is secured in heaven, and in the meantime by the state and internal media, when you do something that ISIS can claim.
The problem with this mass-murderer is not that he is a Muslim. If anything he was more of a homophobe than a Muslim from varying posts. The problem is that he’s a shitty human being. This shittiness more generally falls upon the shoulders of those awarded systemic power. That it was a minority is more statistical anomaly than causality. Please remember that he did not look like your stereotypical Islamic terrorist. He looked a clean-cut patriot American cop lover who worked for G4S (He was a prison guard). He’s as U.S. American as apple pie or reduced rape sentences for white swimmers. This is him again from the top:
So now that time honored moment where someone from the reactionary right (Trump this time) uses something someone else did from the reactionary right (the gay club shooter this time) to mobilize anti-liberal sentiment and justify white supremacy. And then the liberals, play directly into the trap. White democrats abound saying, “Islam is the religion of peace! They’re not real Muslims.” Did you know that there are specific articles in the Koran about the illegitimacy of declaring someone not a real Muslim especially when you are not Muslim at all? But regardless of that, liberals further the stereotype that they can’t be trusted to stand up against reactionary politics and violence so therefor we need a far-right reactionary strong-man to keep our nation in check! Then the white gays start scare voting for Trump. The propaganda battles are timelessly repeated. Then the people on the far-right , “A Christian would never XYZ” And it’s just like wtf? The majority of mass shootings in the U.S. are done by Christians (Unless you don’t count PoC victims, in which case fuck you) The homophobia in this nation is predominantly of a Christian moralism variety. Plus colonialism and the Crusades. #pinkwashing etc. But liberals, also don’t for a second whitewash the history of Islam either simply because Islamaphobia is so rampant. Many parts of it are fucking brutal and by erasing that history to be a good liberal you feed into conservative stereotypes.
The point is, reactionary politics of power and control should be undermined whether they come from whites or otherwise. Don’t be shy on this issue. Of course white supremacy and structural violence is a thing but the liberal politics fail to address the deeper issues at play. The majority of Christians and Muslims and Jews alike are NOT mass shooters throwing gays from rooftops and such. The defining characteristic of those mass shooters are that they look for reinforcement of their shitty politics in books and speeches and conveniently enough, there are many contradictory and inflammatory phrases in both the Bible and the Koran that can be exploited to justify someone’s already shitty politics. But the point is that their politics are shitty. Their intentions while reading is shitty. So of course they’ll see a passage that says, “Slay them wherever you find them.” and skip the literal next passage about forgiveness and avoiding killing in all instances but immediate self-defense. But get rid of the so called holy books and people will just find something else to justify their visceral hatred of difference. To the contrary, most Christians and Muslims are just kind of scanning the holy books for morals so their true instinct for morality or ethics is internal. I mean, do I think we could probably create more current, concise, clear, and ethical manuals of ethics than the holy books? Of course, but I’m an atheist. You’d expect as much. But most people can be trusted to skip over the icky bits about stoning women and such anyways. So it’s not like a huge deal. It’s the people who exploit those trashy bits in their rise to power that are literally dangerous.
We have to get at the tendencies and subvert the propaganda pulpits. Fascist politics breed in spotlight and wither in repression. It’s a culture that says, “we are the true rulers only we’re currently a bit inconvenienced by XYZ”. Liberals can play the victim card forever. Leftists can frolic in shadows ad nauseum b/c they don’t actually like winning that much. But with the far-right is different. You have to cut it off at it’s various sources. Diversity of tactics, ingenuity, creativity, and collaboration become incredibly useful. It’s a battle of ethics and structural politics that we’re actually fighting and we have to protect each other. Let go of the notion that you are safe. And if you actually are safe, maybe help someone who isn’t. Intersectionally oppressed people—queers, transfolks, and people of color– don’t be afraid of guns or protecting yourself. You’re enemies certainly aren’t.
In the land where killing queers, rather than killing toxic ideologies such as fascism, is rewarded, we, as many others before us have already known, cannot afford to entrust the state with our protection. It is the state in fact that depends on our execution. The state pays the electricity bill to the electric chair, the corporations trade stock on the body, and the assimilated gay will gladly pull the handle.
I am sad. But I’m also furious. Not even so much at the murderer, after all, he was just playing his part, but at the systems that benefit from our disaster. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump alike will use the massacre to feed their war machines. But six of one, half a dozen of the other, liberal reformism still leaves us dead. At least Trump approaches honesty on that issue. The drones fly over my house to the borderlands. I’ve seen them resting at the Air-force base. Every day I see the B-2 bombers doing drills and I shudder and want to vomit. Or at least I used to. Lately I’ve been getting kind of used to it. I have to keep living after all.
Apathy is the greatest tragedy. In a world so brimming with hope and creativity we shout at shadows playing on the walls. We don’t know what a cave is. But still, we invent fire and we use it to survive. Queers, we invent love, and we use it to survive. We have to invent it every time because they beat it out of us always but we somehow usually manage to do it anyways. If apathy is the greatest tragedy our love is my greatest hope.