'Orlando showed that mainstream media doesn't really understand, or care, about LGBT issues'
In our new August issue – available to download now and in shops today (July 20) – Attitude presents a passionate analysis of events, with guest writers from the Latin, Muslim, Christian, Black and Trans communities asking the question: What have we learnt from Orlando?To mark the issue hitting shops, here's an exclusive extract from the feature, in which Bristol-based journalist Shon Faye calls out the mainstream media coverage for the way they handled the tragedy...
In the hours after the Pulse nightclub shooting I was sat in my family’s living room staring at my phone. As my Facebook and Twitter timelines soon revealed, the overwhelming feelings of dread and sadness I felt had suffused the minds of all my LGBT friends. Initial reports on news sites such as USA Today barely even mentioned that Pulse was a gay club, Fox News commentators seemed preoccupied with the assailant’s religion — but we were imagining ourselves in clubs and venues and we were scared. It was the largest mass shooting in American history, but BBC One refused to switch away from its coverage of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations.
This disparity only grew throughout the day and culminated in a now notorious exchange between Owen Jones, one of the country’s few openly gay mainstream political commentators, and his straight colleagues on Sky News. In a first look at the following day’s newspapers, the Daily Mail did not even include the story on its front page. When Jones insisted the attack was homophobic,Sky presenter Mark Longhurst told him it was simply an attack on "young people having fun," prompting Jones to walk off set in anger.
The shootings highlighted a sad reality about how little straight-dominated media understands the cultural experience of LGBT people in society. It did not realise that LGBT clubs are not simply clubs to us, they are often safe havens from the violence we negotiate every day. As a trans person, LGBT venues are the only places I am not looking over my shoulder. For gay people it's often the only place they can express affection in public without fear of violence. It was clear that the media either just didn’t understand this or didn’t want to accept that the underlying threat of homophobic violence still exists in our society.
It’s difficult not to feel sad and disillusioned by this; that, no matter how much we may think we have progressed, a huge act of violence, which had reverberated in queer communities on a global scale, was almost erased by many parts of the media. I say 'almost' because, in fact, when LGBT people in cities all over the world took to the streets in vigil and solidarity with the victims — including the huge gathering in London — the media did finally look up and take notice. Those vigils did make front pages.
Here in the UK, the LGBT response to media ignorance was what LGBT activism has always meant: taking to the streets en masse, displaying our community physically and demanding that we be heard. We learned that this is what we must continue to do - not just to combat media silence but everywhere where violence or loss tries to smother the truth about our lives.
By Shon FayeYou can read our special feature on Orlando and its aftermath in the new issue of Attitude, in shops now and available to download now from pocketmags.com/attitude.Print copies are available to order from newsstand.co.uk.
Also in Attitude’s August issue, alongside all your usual news, reviews, fitness & travel:
20 years of Girl Power: Spice Girl Emma Bunton recalls the highs and lows of life as part of the world’s most famous girl groups ever.
Three years before Stonewall… there was the riot at Compton’s cafeteria in San Francisco. Attitude commemorates 50 years since the queer community fought back against an oppressive police force.
Pop’s new sensation Shura on why she doesn’t want to be compartmentalised as a queer artist.
Out gay Iraqi activist Amir Ashour on why he’ll never stop fighting for LGBT liberation in his homeland.
Willam reveals why he has no love for RuPaul’s Drag Race.