My heart aches for the members of our LGBTQ family who were lost in the gay bar, Pulse, last weekend and yours should too. Not only were they ripped from this world before their time, but so was your own son. These are facts you already know.
I am writing to you because I feel sorry for your son and the home you brought him up in, which clearly had a lack of love. Please remember, Mr. Mateen that words only mean so much, for if they are not felt or shown then repercussions will surely abound. I'm sure this is now a fact you already know.
Throughout the week I have been trying to piece together my own thoughts and the only summation I seem to find or even believe, is that you did not show your son love. And through this lack, he took a way out. The only way he knew how. At least now he may have the chance to be free - but even that comes with a price. 49 others he took along with him.
Did you love your son? Moreover, did you tell him? Show him? Or was the upbringing you bestowed one of unabashed hatred and your own self-loathing.
Did he disappoint you somehow? Did you tell him that he did? When his first marriage failed, did you scorn him? Did he abuse his wives? Did he watch you abuse his mother and your daughters? Did you catch him watching porn? Did you catch him watching gay porn? Did you plant the seeds of homophobia inside his mind and call out two men kissing in Miami? Yes, you said this angered him, but did it anger you more? You have daughters, did they play with dolls? Did your son try to play with the dolls? Did you hit him if he tried?
Did you tell him to be a man? Did you tell him that only girls cry?
As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Mateen, parents hold the minds of their children in their palms from the day they are born. You shape them, you teach them, you make them into who they are. Yes, the media, society, religion, friend groups, they have their own part. Their own hands in the pot. But it is in the home. Your home. That is where the real work of forming a young person's mind has the most influence.
From what has been portrayed and displayed of you - albeit the media does sensationalize a lot of things - you are not the right man who deserves the privileges of being a parent.
I will say this now and it pains me to do so, but shame on you for clearly being a bad parent to your only son.
I am sure that you don't ever wish to be told you are a bad parent. I expect that nobody does, however, if you had really wanted the best for him, if you had supported him, if you had loved him...then this. What happened. What he did, could have possibly been avoided or even not have happened at all.
And now? Well, I could be plucking at straws. Grasping for an answer I will probably never get. Your son called the police and claimed he was linked to IS Terrorist groups. Were those just words? A red herring? Did he see you over the years of his life spout so many empty words that he did so himself to avoid the real truth to come out?
After all, if your son was chatting to men on gay dating apps he had their privacy. Their trust. Because let me tell you a secret Mr. Mateen, the LGBTQ community protects and accepts anyone and everyone. If your son had wanted discretion then he would have been given it. Turn on any one of those apps at any time and there are at least ten to fifteen men in one-mile radios that want a man to spend time with. Even though they are married to a woman. Have a girlfriend. Have their own families. Our community gives that trust and we expect to have it in return - but for some reason, your son broke it and tried to throw the people's eyes in another direction.
Maybe he didn't expect anyone to come forward and reveal the truth about who he really was. But with a crime this awful, silence is a word that makes absolutely no sense. Yet, silence from you is what your son received all his life. So why would he have expected anything different now? But he must have forgotten that a trust can easily be broken - especially when people are killed.
I feel sorry for you, Mr. Mateen. I feel sorry that your son didn't receive the love and support from his family that he clearly needed. I feel broken over the people he killed. But oddly, I also feel hope for your son too. I hope that wherever he may be, he has found his peace and is able to be with as many men he desires - if that is indeed his want.
On Wednesday I sat and ate my lunch in the sunshine. I looked up at the sky and saw one lonely cloud burst. When I pulled my phone from my pocket I had a message from my mum telling me she loved me. I get one every day. Whether we have argued or laughed. More important than those words are the feelings in my heart when I read them.
I hope that you carry the pain of what your son did to the 49 he killed, 49 who were loved and will be loved unconditionally by their families, friends, and by those who were not lucky enough to meet them and the light that they gave.
I hope that parents of young LGBTQ children see your mistake and give their own the love and support they deserve. We aren't going anywhere, Mr. Mateen. As long as people good and bad continue to create life, we are here to stay. And we will give support and help to anyone who needs it or wants it. Because it's what we do.
And finally, I hope that on the day you decide to tell your son that you love him, that he finally feels it.
With a heavy heart,