Homonationalism and Islamophobia

Float for gay Muslims. London Pride, 2011. Author unknown. Creative Commons License.

During the third presidential debate, Trump attacked Clinton on the grounds that she takes money from Middle-Eastern nations that commonly condemn and kill gay men. Trump once again generalized all Muslims as falling under the violently anti- views of ISIS, an organization that employs this brutal method of execution against men accused of homosexuality.

Trump is not helping our case by attempting to brand a whole minority as a people who seek our deaths. This man is inciting Americans to attack their Middle Eastern neighbors and falsely accuse them of homophobic crimes that they didn’t commit.

Islamophobic Violence

One example of this is the death of Khalid Jabara, a 37-year-old Oklahoman man fatally shot by his neighbor, Stanley Majors, on August 12 of this year. Majors had reportedly threatened Jabara’s family for years by constantly shouting racial epithets at them, and even intentionally running over Jabara’s 65-year-old mother with a car, an incident that left her with a broken shoulder. The violence culminated with Majors gunning down Khalid when he stepped outside his house for a brief moment. Major’s husband, Stephen Schmauss, had warned Khalid that Majors already fired his gun from inside their home earlier that day.

Something important to keep in mind is that the Jabara family, who are Lebanese by origin, are actually Christian. Majors either didn’t know that, or refused to let that stop him from tormenting the family. While this is only speculation, it is possible that this man’s aggression towards the Jabara family came from seeing videos of ISIS shoving gay men off of rooftops. Whether or not this is true, Khalid Jabara’s murder is a stark reminder that Islamophobia is a serious problem in this country, even in the LGBTQ community. Even then, Stanley Majors was not justified to attack a family that had nothing to do with the atrocious crimes committed against Middle Eastern gay men.

Sept. 17, 2016. Protesters demonstrated against Islamophobia and Trump's hateful rhetoric. Photo by Fibonacci Blue (Creative Commons License).

Sept. 17, 2016. Protesters in Minneapolis, Minnesota demonstrated against Islamophobia and Trump’s hateful rhetoric. Photo by Fibonacci Blue (Creative Commons License).

Another example of Trump inciting Islamophobic violence is the arson of a mosque in Orlando, Florida, the same city where the Pulse massacre occurred. The shooter, Omar Mateen, attended this mosque. The incident can be linked to Trump’s response to the massacre back in June, in which he used the shooting to back up his desire to ban all Muslims from entering the country if he becomes president.

It is likely that whoever set fire to the mosque in Orlando did so with the notion that they were doing it for the sake of the victims in the shooting. But what they, and the American LGBTQ community as a whole needed is healing and love, not a pointless act of revenge against people who aren’t responsible for Omar Mateen’s choice.

Homonationalism Explained

Men like Stanley Majors, and whoever attacked this mosque, are examples of a recent negative trend in America’s LGBTQ community that has been dubbed as “homonationalism” by Jasbir K. Puar, a Rutgers University professor. Homonationalism is, at its roots, an attempt to justify xenophobic, racist views by combining these with one’s LGBTQ identity. As The Huffington Post points out, homonationalism is generally backed by white, gay, cisgender men who have no intention of doing their part to help those individuals of this country’s LGBTQ community who are much more vulnerable to discrimination of all sorts.

Each and every one of us are obligated to aid each other in ending the various forms of discrimination that we face, be it transphobia, homophobia, racism or religious discrimination. This community must take these two aforementioned crimes very seriously, because they are harsh examples of what happens when hate blinds us and divides us. We can’t let Trump trick this nation into believing that he’s a champion for our rights, when all he does is make our Muslim neighbors scapegoats for him to target.


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