The French Media's Telling Silence On The Orlando Shooting

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13:  A man draped with the flag of the United States near candles attends a vigil in front of the Eiffel
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13: A man draped with the flag of the United States near candles attends a vigil in front of the Eiffel Tower for victims of a shooting inside a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 13, 2016 in Paris, France. Forty-nine people were killed and at least as many injured during a Latin music event at the Pulse club in the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. The American-born gunman Omar Mateen, who had recently pledged allegiance to ISIS, died after killing 49 people early morning on June 12. The massacre was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

I heard about the shooting at Pulse nightclub at around 10am on Sunday, when a notification from CNN appeared on my smartphone screen. I had never heard of that gay club in Orlando; in fact, I was barely familiar with the city. The sky was grey on June 12 in Paris -- adding to the feeling of isolation that such situations tend to bring.

CNN showed several photographs that stroked memories of the attacks that took place in Paris on November 13, 2015. After we saw the photos, we were confronted with the chilling testimonies of survivors. On a Saturday night -- Latin night -- there was music, followed by bullets. One witness said that the rhythm of gunfire initially followed that of the music. Then, we heard from the mother of one the patrons at the club, who said she had been seeking information. She knew that her son's boyfriend was carried away by an ambulance, but she had no news about her son. Another survivor's testimony explained how he was able to escape from the nightclub by crawling on the floor as deadly missiles split the air above him.

Pulse is a gay club. The patrons at the club that night were gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, heterosexuals, as well as people who do not identify as any of the labels I just listed. A man driven by mad hatred for the LGBT community decided to show up at a gay club, heavily armed to kill. He was efficient, methodic, and determined: For three consecutive hours, he cold-bloodedly massacred people at the club.

How can we not be surprised by the silence of French media, which decided it would be better to wait until the end of the day before it could establish a link between the attack and the site of the attack, or the link between homophobia and the massacre?

We get the sense that French media treated the massacre with indifference, and dealt with it as just another shooting in the United States, without placing the facts or motives in context.

How can we not revolt against the incapacity of the political class to use the term "homophobia"? Monday's national press headlines, with the exception of the daily newspaper Sud-Ouest, failed to mention the term "gay" or the expression "gay club." Yet it was the LGBT community of the city that was targeted -- in fact, it was the LGBT community at large that was hit.

Ultimately, we get the sense that French media treated the massacre with indifference, and dealt with it as just another shooting in the United States, without placing the facts or motives in context.

The point here is to realize that society must recognize the presence of lesbophobia, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. Among the victims of attacks on the LGBT community are journalists, Jews, Muslims, agnostics, Africans, Europeans, Asians, Americans, as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. We've seen how homophobic and transphobic hatred can also lead to mass massacres.

Masking the homophobic motivation of the attack has allowed the most fervent enemies of the LGBT community in France, such as Christine Boutin, Robert Menard, La Manif Pour Tous, and many others to play the emotional card.

Full of hypocrisy, enemies of the LGBT community pretend to be different from the hate that they helped to create. Religious leaders, who condemned LGBT people for centuries, have often provided the ideological basis on which LGBT-phobes draw their hatred.

The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for the Orlando massacre. The investigations will confirm the ties between the alleged killer and the terrorist organization, but one thing is certain: The massacre reflects the ideology of the Islamic State.

There were plenty of warning signs. In Raqqa, suspected gays are thrown to their death from building rooftops. Furthermore, the LGBT community constitutes only one target; the Islamic State blindly massacres all those who live by rules that deviate from their own. Their rules, meanwhile, are inspired by an imagined version of religion.

We will proudly roam the streets. We will not give in to darkness: We will have the audacity to go on living.

There are fanatics in every religion. However, if fanatics can become inspired by religion to promote their destructive ideologies, it may be because their interpretation of religion allows them to do so. The three religions that have been dominating society for centuries and centuries condemn LGBT people.

This fact became evident during the "marriage for all" debate in France. The Catholic Church of France issued a "prayer for France" on August 15, 2012, defending the male/female couple as the single acceptable family model. Rabbi Gilles Bernheim released a letter that discusses "the harm that the [gay marriage] law would cause to the whole society." Dalil Boubakeur, the president of the Great Mosque of Paris, declared on Europe 1: "We condemn homosexuality, but we do not want to be homophobic."

The LGBT community has been humiliated in every way possible. How can we be surprised by the hatred that the LGBT community faces when we know that religious scriptures condemn its members?

This is why religious institutions must realize the scope of the responsibility they carry in the institutionalized discrimination against millions of people, century after century. It is easy to show a benevolent stance by sending out a tweet of support and love, while insisting on inciting the hatred that leads to such massacres.

All we can do now is mourn the victims. We take comfort in silence and recall happy memories. After the mourning is over, we will continue to honor the memory of those we lost. We will proudly roam the streets. We will not give in to darkness: We will have the audacity to go on living.

This post first appeared on HuffPost France. It has been translated into English and edited for clarity.