Hiding behind hate That gay-bashing homophobe could be gay himselfCarl Fearn/Twitter (left), jared_mathew/Instagram (right)- As a mark of defiance against the Orlando attack, social media users started the #TwoMenKissing campaign
Features Friday, June 17, 2016 - 17:00

Twenty-nine-year-old Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in a gay night club in Orlando last week, was believed to be a closet homosexual by some of the people who knew him. 

According to them, he frequented gay dating bars and even used gay dating apps.

When asked if she believed Mateen was gay, his first wife Sifora Yusufiy told CNN, "I don't know. He never personally or physically made any indication while we were together, of that. But he did feel very strongly about homosexuality. He might have been gay but chose to hide his true identity out of anger and shame."

Following similar statements made by his friends and locals, the New York born graduate's motivations behind what is now said to be America's worst mass shooting are now being questioned- was this a terror attack or a homophobic hate crime by a man who was aware that he was gay but absolutely loathed it?

That Mateen could have been gay and also homophobic however may not come across as surprising. 

A 2012 research stated that individuals who are aggressive towards gay people or express negative attitude towards them may have same-sex desires themselves. Homophobic views can often be a result of upbringing by controlling parents who hold similar views or repress their child's homosexual urges. 

Richard Ryan, co-author of the paper and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, told LiveScience, "Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they 'doth protest too much. In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves."

He went on further say, "We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat. Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences."

However, it would be incorrect to assume that all homophobes are gays. But gay or not, having a homophobic attitude can severely scar those at the receiving end. 

In a hard-hitting blog for NDTV, well-know film director and producer Karan Johar recently wrote, how for several years now he has been a punching bag for homophobes on social media. 

Johar writes how a phase started in his life where "I began to wake up to 'gay ma*****od, good morning'. Every morning. Or just 'hi gay'. I am routinely called 'chakka'. Every so often, I'm told I'm a transsexual/transvestite/sister-shagging homosexual, which is actually, if you think about it, a contradiction in terms."

He goes on to add that he has reached a point in his life when he does not let all that hatred affect him anymore. 

How do you deal with such individuals then? PinkNews reporter Naith Payton writes, "Condemn their harmful actions, by all means – but have a little compassion too. There’s hardly an LGBT person alive who hasn’t said something anti-LGBT in the past, while closeted, out of fear, or because they believed it at the time. Pity – don’t mock – the closeted homophobes for being unable to be themselves, but not for being gay. And don’t assume all homophobes are gay. Some of them just hate us."

Read: In defiance of Orlando shooting, social media users are sharing pictures of #TwoMenKissing

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