Sexuality is a simple word for a confounding landscape of feelings, sensations and thoughts: excitement, confusion, comfort, longing, disappointment, fear, rejection.
Many people believe the powerful forces of jihadism spurred the murder of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando on Sunday morning. The killer, Omar Mateen, was the son of Muslim parents from Afghanistan. He apparently called 911 to pledge his allegiance to a faraway army before he began his killing spree. His ex-wife Sitora Yusufiy said “he did practice and he had his faith”, although she added that, when she knew him, he showed “no sign” of radicalisation.
Until some concrete link emerges between those distant Isis fighters and Mateen, we have the fact of his Muslim heritage and the 911 call – the sort-of invocation of a hated but fearsome group that anyone wanting to sound fearsome themselves can deploy. That and some muddled boasts to co-workers about having links to both al-Qaida and to Hezbollah, groups that bitterly oppose one another from across the Sunni-Shia divide.
What of the powerful forces of sexuality? Of shame, of belonging, of the desire to ruin what you feel you cannot have – some of the most powerful forces a psyche can contain?
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