When Americans first heard of the deadliest mass shooting in American history, at the Orlando, Florida, gay nightclub Pulse on early Sunday morning, which took the lives of 49 people — with an additional 53 wounded — certain reactions were predictable.
Certainly it was expected that President Barack Obama would respond with suggestions that it was an example of why we need stricter gun control, while at the same time saying nothing about the shooter’s Islamic religion. And it was not surprising that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump would renew his call for a ban on Muslim immigration, at least temporarily.
No one expected that the shooter would be a disgruntled Buddhist, an angry Hindu, a disturbed Catholic, or even a fundamentalist Baptist preacher. That Omar Mateen (shown), the shooter, was revealed to be a Muslim was not surprising.
What has caused some surprise — at least for most Americans — is that there are strong indications that Mateen was a homosexual himself.
Mateen’s father, Sidiqque Mir Mateen, who immigrated into the United States from Afghanistan, offered an explanation that seemed to fit into the profile of a Muslim who detested homosexuals. He said that his son was angered by seeing two men kissing, and that caused him to enter the “gay bar” and murder dozens of patrons. The elder Mateen is reportedly a candidate for president of Afghanistan, and a supporter of the Taliban.
Homosexual relations are much more prevalent in Afghanistan than in most Islamic countries.
Homosexual activity is certainly disapproved strongly in most of the Islamic world, and is punishable by death in 11 Muslim countries. But new evidence makes it highly unlikely that the shooter was motivated simply by the shock of seeing two men kissing.
Mateen was a regular at the gay nightclub, and no doubt observed quite a bit of homosexual affection during that time. Evidence indicates that the reason Mateen was a regular at the bar was that he was part of the homosexual lifestyle — exchanging messages with at least one homosexual man on a gay dating app.
“He’s been going to this bar for at least three years,” Chris Callen, a drag queen who goes by the stage name of Kristina McLaughlin, told the press.
Mateen married in 2009, but his ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, who divorced him after just a few months, said he was abusive and unstable. Her parents rescued her from their home in Florida. The divorce was finalized in 2011, and she has revealed that he was a homosexual, or at least exhibited “gay tendencies.” She recalled that his father had referred to him as gay.
Interestingly, Yusifiy’s fiancee, Marco Dias of Brazil, claims that the FBI “asked her not to tell this to the American media.”
A former male classmate has said that Mateen asked him out romantically. The two men met while attending the Indian River Community College police academy in 2006, and they went to gay bars together after class. “I declined his offer,” the man said.
Kevin West, another regular at Pulse, said he had received messages from Omar Mateen on the gay chat and dating app Jack’d. But he had never met him until about an hour before the massacre. West recognized Mateen from his photo, and they exchanged a brief greeting in passing.
Several patrons of Pulse also remembered seeing Mateen at the club, saying that he would sometimes “get so drunk he was loud and belligerent.”
A high-school acquaintance recalled that Mateen was “happy that Americans were dying” after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Robert Zirkle said that he and other students on the bus told Mateen to stop making plane noises, as if he were slamming an airplane into buildings. “We told him if he didn’t stop making noises, we were going to beat him up.”
Hopefully, we will learn more about Mateen’s motivations in the days ahead, but we can surely conclude that he was not the stereotyped right-wing gun lover whom liberal politicians and their allies in the mainstream media would expect.