America's deadliest mass shooting in history comes at a particularly uneasy time for the country. A tumultuous presidential election (with its overcast of xenophobia and racism), national security concerns that have manifested domestically as Islamophobia, and the raging debate on gun control laws makes the Orlando shooting all the more complicated as the public tries to come to terms with what happened.
Across the country, American Muslims' hearts sank further as the name and background of the shooter was released. They have been quick to condemn the shooting and the shooter, once again emphasizing to the larger American public that no, the shooter and his crime did not represent them or their religion.
Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)'s Florida chapter, called for "overwhelming love" in response to the attack.
American Muslim groups issued statements expressing their solidarity with the LGBT community and emphasizing tolerance as they brace themselves for the sadly familiar backlash that they have come to expect in the aftermath of such events.
Many people on Twitter took pains to remind others that queer Muslims exist, too.
America's only openly gay imam, Daayiee Abdullah, said on Monday that he was "heartbroken" by the Orlando shooting.
"Historically, the LGBT community has suffered violence on an individual basis in America," he said, according to The Daily Beast. "The goal of this violence is to sequester and keep us (gays) hidden because some are afraid of change and of people who are different."
Many American Muslims also talked pointedly about the reported homophobia behind the shooting. Mahdia Lynn at Muslim Girl wrote:
What happened yesterday is a homophobic hate crime. We can spend the day equivocating, discussing what is or isn't determined to be terrorism in the United States, but the fact of the matter is a man has used our faith to justify the massacre of fifty innocent human beings. The reluctance of Muslims to name this atrocity for what it is — homophobia to its most violent end — is feigning ignorance to the very real issue of homophobia in our communities.
"When we acknowledge that hatred of LGBTQ people is the driving motive of this attack, we are taking the first step to addressing the insidious, tacit homophobia that permeates Muslim American discourse," Lynn wrote. "It's the first step to un-learning systemic anti-LGBTQ bigotry which encompasses not just the Muslim community, but the entire world."
So while it is all too easy to pit Muslims and the LGBT community against each other, the oversimplification of the issue is a disservice to discussions about the Orlando shooting and does nothing for either community. Recognizing and elevating those who fight for the other's rights, as well as everyone who exists at the intersection of both, will do far more to push the conversation along.
Cover image via Nando Machado / Shutterstock.com.