“Another Radical Muslim Attack Claims American Lives” An example of the news headlines following the Orlando Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016 in which an American-born man, Omar Mateen, went on a mass shooting in a gay nightclub that would end with 49 lives taken. Every Time we have a gruesome crime, or mass murder we go through the same process. We are shocked, we mourn for the victims, we sympathize for the families, and we condemn the monster who did it. There is rarely a moment where we dissect what lead to the person’s transition into a monster. Today we have villainized the Muslim community due to radical religion in the form of extremist terrorist groups like ISIS so that has become our go-to in labeling Mateen a monster. However from just a little research into Mateen’s history and background we can look at the multiple causes that lead to the creation of the monster he became. Instead of highlighting things like mental health, internalized homophobia, and religions that condemn homosexuality, we immediately use the radical islamic terrorist card. Unfortunately I believe that American-born Mateen wasn’t just a radical islamic terrorist. I believe that he is a monster that we as a society created because of various cultural issues.
A cause that many people have come forward and validated is Mateen’s struggles with his sexuality. The radical religion terrorism has overshadowed this part of Omar Mateen’s story. Although Mateen was married there are many reports that say the truth to his sexuality was different than what was portrayed. A former classmate of Mateen’s came forward to the Palm Beach Post and told a story of how Omar tried to pick him up in a gay bar in 2016. “He said, ‘Well if you were gay, you would be my type.” He then goes on to explain that everyone in their circle at the time had believe Mateen was gay but not open about it. “He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” the friend explained. In addition to these stories from old friends, multiple regulars at Pulse have come forward and mentioned that they had seen Mateen at the club multiple times of the years leading up to the event. Some could argue that Mateen was just planning out his attack however there are multiple reports of witnesses who saw him pursuing men. Outside of the nightclub, Mateen had also had a past with a male co-worker in 2007. Mateen was allegedly obsessed with the male coworker, Daniel Gilroy, and pursued him so aggressively that Gilroy ended up leaving the security job that they worked at together(Mower 2016). Looking beyond in person witnesses, there have been multiple men who have come forward with information regarding Mateen’s use of gay dating apps. Monster thesis four explains that the monster dwells at the gates of difference. A prime example of this is in modern day is homosexuality vs. heterosexuality(Cohen). To put it simply, a huge part of Mateen becoming a monster was simply the fact that he was different. Mateen may have had an idea that these differences were negative and unacceptable as many others do. Research on Internalized Homophobia, or self-hatred due to one’s sexual orientation, show that a person who is not out suffers from higher levels of IHP which can lead to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and anger issues(Meyer 1998). Coming from a strong religious and cultural background seeing sexuality as such a negative is enough to drive someone to become a monster to themselves and in this case, to many others.
The easiest reason that the media seems to draw on everytime there is a crime involving a person of Muslim religion is terrorism linked to radical religion. However the facts as it pertains to Omar Mateen’s religious involvement don’t quite add up. To examine this we will start from what we know and work our way through Mateen’s past. Between 2:35am and 3:25am on June 6, 2016 Mateen spoke with police through a series of calls while inside Pulse nightclub. What we know is that at some point during these calls Mateen swore allegiance to the Islamic State and expressed he felt the “pain of the people getting killed in Syria and Iraq.”(Bowen, 2017) Of course this coming directly from Mateen led the media to label this as a terrorist attack due to Radical Muslim teachings. When we look further into Mateen’s religious background or lack there of, it doesn’t quite add up.
Statements from Mateen’s ex wife have concluded with Mateen never actually being religious at all. She mentions that he may have had private beliefs that he kept to himself but he was never a practicing Muslim. Mateen was reported to be firm in his faith leading up to the attack. From my analysis it is my belief that Mateen’s struggle with faith and sexuality was perhaps the straw that broke the camel’s back. He is said to have attended Mosques weekly and pray three to four times throughout the week. Syed Rahman, a man who attended the same church and knew Mateen since he was a child reports that the closer Mateen got to his religion, the more troubled he came to be. Just four months before the Pulse shooting, an Islamic preacher visiting the church gave a speech calling for the death and punishment of all homosexuals. Is it possible that Mateen, struggled with conflicting views of his faith and his sexuality? Could it be that he was tormented by the idea that what he was went completely against the religion he was brought up in? Perhaps he had a similar journey to many gay men of various religions that condemn homosexuality. This has been shown to significantly increase Internalized Homophobia levels(Meyer,1998). Being raised in a religion that condemns you based on something you can not change can really affect your mental well being. Perhaps Mateen felt denied by his religion and cast out, for this he may have decided that his only shot at “salvation” was an act of radicalism that eliminated the very thing that he couldn’t accept within himself. What is interesting about Mateen’s pledge to the Islamic State is that there has never been any direct links discovered. FBI Director James Comey explains that the inconsistency “adds a little bit to the confusion about his motives.”(Bowen, 2017) In monster thesis seven, the monster stands at the threshold of becoming, a key factor in defining the monster is explained in which the monster asks us to reevaluate cultural assumptions on race, gender, sexuality, and perception toward differences and tolerance toward its expression(Cohen). Many religions are now attempting to be more inclusive when it comes to perception and acceptance of homosexuality, however many religions still continue to condemn this. Clearly Mateen belonged to a congregation that condemned these differences and it is not until he become the monster and committed his monstrous crime that we can sit back and question the various causes that lead to this for reevaluation of how we view differences. A condemning faith, although distant from the incident is still closely related as a remote cause to the creation of the monster. All of these inaccuracy in Mateen’s faith lead me to believe that perhaps this was just Mateen’s last effort in ensuring that he was right by his religion amidst the battle he had with his own demons. He saw no light in the condemnation, so he chose a radical path in hopes of peace and salvation.
In addition to Mateen’s struggles with religion and sexuality it is also believed that he was mentally unstable and possibly even mentally ill which in my opinion, is the most sufficient factor in the creation of this malevolent monster. Sitora Yusifiy who is Mateen’s ex wife spoke to reporters in Boulder, Colorado and explained her volatile marriage with him. She claimed that Mateen was bipolar and had a history of steroid abuse(Alter, 2016). Research on internalized homophobia has shown us that men who suffer from IHP often struggle with their self-image as it pertains to masculinity(Ian, 2000). Perhaps Mateen had an issue with steroids due to wanting to overcompensate his masculinity. Yusifiy goes on to explain that Mateen beat her regularly and made her cut ties with all of her family and friends. She would later have to be physically ripped from Mateen’s arms when her family decided to rescue her from the situation. There are other people in Mateen’s life such as his second wife who have refused to comment on his mental stability. Mental instability and alleged disorders like bipolar and anger management gone untreated would have lead Mateen to eventually commit some sort of monstrous act be it, harming his wife, himself, or unfortunately something larger like the Pulse incident.
The Pulse incident is a heartbreaking and tragic event that I believe was caused by the creation of a monster rather than the act of Islamic Terrorism. Mateen battled a number of demons from mental illness, to internalized homophobia caused by a condemning religion and societal views. I am in no way a monster sympathizer and I do not belief there is any excuse for the blood shed and lives lost at Mateen’s hands however this monster was created. Just like monster thesis number six, this monster will return. Since Orlando Pulse, we as a society have shown little change in acceptance, condemning religions, and mental health in LGBTQ members. Because we have not changed as a culture we continue to breed these monsters. Mateen’s story and motives have been signed off as radical islamic terrorism when in fact there are multiple causes that lead to him becoming a monster and unfortunately we have refused to acknowledge those factors. Even though Mateen is dead, unfortunately, the monster still lives unaddressed and shadowed in false cause.
Cohen, J Jeffrey. “Monster Culture (Seven Thesis) Monster Theory: Reading Culture, 1996 pp. 3-20
This is the source of the monster thesis which I will be incorporating to analyze and evaluate Omar Mateen.
Iain R. Williamson; Internalized homophobia and health issues affecting lesbians and gay men , Health Education Research, Volume 15, Issue 1, 1 February 2000, Pages 97–107.
This article’s main purpose is to help define and promote discussion around the concept of internalized homophobia and its effect on health. The concept of internalized homophobia, or self hatred, is still a fairly new one that is not recognized as an actual condition yet. In this study the author helps define, validate, and offer new ways of assessing internalized homophobia. This source will be my main resource because of the facts, definitions, and sources that the author cited. I will use this to help describe the IHP levels that Omar Mateen may have suffered from.
Meyer, I. H., & Dean, L. (1998). Internalized homophobia, intimacy, and sexual behavior among gay and bisexual men. Psychological perspectives on lesbian and gay issues, 4, 160-186.
This source explores the various causes of IHP and emphasizes the impact of minority stress as a contributor to IHP. This study concludes in showing that the high levels of stress lead to high levels of distress within gay men due to being a minority because of their sexual orientation. The author breaks down the “normal” man’s life verses the gay man’s life. I will use this in my paper to explain factors in religion that may have caused IHP in Omar Mateen
Mower, Lawrence. “Orlando Shooter Omar Mateen Was Gay, Former Classmate Says.” Palmbeachpost, Palmbeachpost.com, 13 Aug. 2016, www.palmbeachpost.com/news/orlando-shooter-omar-mateen-was-gay-former-classmate-says/Trnefc7HQatgNsr3uZenXI/.
This is a newspaper article in which former classmates and coworkers of Omar Mateen came out with statements regarding his sexuality. I will be using this in my paper to argue his questionable sexuality and its various effects on IHP. This is a news article with first person responses so I believe it is credible.
Alter, Charlotte. “Sitora Yusufiy: Omar Mateen Was Gay, Hiding from Parents.” Time, Time, 15 June 2016, time.com/4369577/orlando-shooting-sitora-yusufiy-omar-mateen-gay/
This is an article in Time magazine in which more evidence is presented about Mateen’s sexuality. I will be using this in my paper to argue his questionable sexuality and its various effects on IHP. This is a news article with first person responses so I believe it is credible.
Bowen, John R. Religions in practice: An approach to the anthropology of religion. Routledge, 2017.
This is a journal that explains the relationship and involvement of radical religion and terrorism. They talk directly about Omar Mateen and his involvement in radical religion. This is a scholar journal so I believe it is a credible source.