Photo by PeskyMonkey / iStock.
This blog post is a joint collaboration between: Minnah W. Farook, APAGS member and Student Affiliate Member of Divisions 17, 45, 35, 29, 52, and 56 and Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate, Roberto L. Abreu, Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Co-chair of the National Latina/o Psychological Association Orgullo Latinx: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity SIG and Division 45 Student Committee Co-liaison, and James J. García, Clinical Health Psychology Ph.D. Candidate and Past Chair of the APAGS Committee for the Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Diversity (APAGS-CARED).
Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog represent the personal opinions of the authors and not necessarily those of APA, APAGS, NLPA, or any other divisions of the APA.
A year ago we mourned the loss of 49 LGBTQ+ victims (58 wounded) during the Pulse nightclub massacre, most (90%) of whom were of Latinx and Puerto Rican heritage. Since then, the LGBTQ+ community, especially queer Latinx and people of color (PoC), have struggled to heal while fostering resilience and finding ways to work through fear and hypervigilance. Needless to say, both the Latinx and LGBTQ+ community at large have, and will continue, to mourn. Additionally, there have been repeated attempts by conservative politicians to co-opt this traumatic experience for the LGBTQ+ and Latinx community in order to advance an anti-Muslim agenda. This has contributed to a sociopolitical narrative that:
- Allows the media and politicians to scapegoat the Muslim community by promoting anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies.
- Does not recognize the complexity of internalized homophobia and heterosexism, mental health issues, and gun control legislation that may be factors in the Pulse attack.
On June 10, 2017, ACT for America, a group that has been identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, organized a “March Against Sharia” in 20 states and 28 cities across the country. Although described as defenders of Muslim women and human rights, the founder of the group, Brigitte Gabriel, has equated all Muslims with terrorists, claimed that Muslims cannot be loyal to America, and has spread hate speech to demonize all Muslims. In close proximity to the march, and timed with the anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub, members of the group took the opportunity to connect their anti-Muslim message with support for LGBTQ rights. This opportunistic ploy has attracted misinformed LGBTQ individuals and LGBTQ allies to these marches and to the thinly veiled anti-Muslim agenda of ACT for America.