As the FBI investigates claims that the gunman behind the massacre at Pulse nightclub was a regular patron of the LGBT+ bar and also active on gay dating apps, GLAAD has released a statement saying that regardless of the killer's sexual orientation, this was still a horrific act of homophobia.
GLAAD, an LGBT+ media monitoring organisation in the US, condemns the shooter, stressing the importance of focusing on the victims and the LGBT+ community.
“Forty-nine innocent people were brutally massacred in an LGBT space – this we know for certain,” President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “this atrocity was an attack on the LGBT community, it was an attack on our country, and it was an attack on the core American values of equality and freedom for everyone.
“Whether the gunman’s homophobia spurred from hatred of others or hatred of himself, this is homophobia all the same. And it’s sadly just the latest example of homophobia turning to horrific violence, just as it has for decades.”
“This hatred for the LGBT community is something that the gunman learned right here at home, not outside our borders,” she went on. “This is the same hatred that led to the murders of over a dozen transgender Americans this year, most of them women of colour.
“This is the same hatred that’s been espoused by American lawmakers who have proposed over 100 anti-LGBT bills this year. And this is the same hatred that we all must come together to end once and for all. Acceptance must prevail.”
The gunman's first wife Sitora Yusufiy tells the New York Times that she thinks he may have been gay but was too filled with anger and shame to reveal it. He told her that before their marriage he enjoyed going to nightclubs but did not specify that they were gay clubs.
A former police academy classmate of the gunman tells WFTV9 that he also believed the shooter was gay but not openly so.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” said the classmate, who wishes to remain anonymous. “He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him. He was always socially awkward.”
Regulars at Pulse have also come forward to say they recognise the killer as a patron.