Guardian opinion columnist David Shariatmadari links Omar Mateen’s murderous rampage to suppressed gayness:
If analysts are already weighing up the implications of possible links with Isis, if presidential candidates are taking it as read that Mateen was part of a web of Islamist terror spreading across the globe, let me imagine a situation in which sex, not sectarianism, plays a part. Transgressive sexuality and conservative religion can be a toxic mix. If Mateen felt conflicted about his interest in gay men, it could have been because he believed his faith would condemn him for it. There’s no easy answer to this…
When I interviewed him recently for another article, the distinguished psychologist Samuel Juni told me: “Running away and trying to get in touch are psychologically not contradictory … When you’re running, part of you is running from something that you would very much like to be in touch with but you can’t.” The annihilation on Sunday morning may have been Mateen’s final attempt to run away from the thing that obsessed him.
All of this poses a problem for the likes of Donald Trump, who told his Twitter followers, as the blood on the bathroom walls of Pulse was still drying, that he “appreciate[d] the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism”.
If a heady combination of shame and sexuality were part of what drove Mateen’s decisions that morning, how is that to be policed? How can we, to borrow the language of counter-terrorism, “eradicate” the “scourge” of internalised homophobia? Of a feeling that one’s desires are dirty and humiliating? You can’t easily make a homeland secure against self-loathing.
Donald Trump, meet human nature, in all its messy, depraved and self-defeating complexity. Sadly, complexity was never your strong point.
If Trump is wrong about radical Islam we’re in big trouble: better a few radicalised killers than moderate Muslims driven to murder.
Update: An expert considers stigma and suppressed homosexuality:
“It’s a really simple concept unfortunately,” says Ilan Meyer, a senior scholar for public policy and sexual orientation law at the University of California, Los Angeles. “All members of society are taught about conventions. We learn about stigma and prejudices about certain groups from a very young age.
“So when a person begins to recognise that he or she is gay or lesbian, there is already that negativity.”
Messages about homosexuality can come from multiple places, including family, school and the media, experts say.
Intolerance can be covertly communicated, perhaps through slurs or pejorative statements such as “that’s so gay”, or overtly, such as bullying or anti-gay teachings in religions that do not accept LGBT rights.
Ultimately looking at the religious element:
“There are many religions that are not homophobic,” says Meyer. “But in some cases, when you are religious and you hear negative messages repeatedly from people who are the most valued in your community it is going to be a very painful lesson.
“Certainly in the evangelical Christian community in the US, for example, if you went to church every week you could learn horrible things.”
But somehow resist the urge to become a mass-murderer.