I resent comparing myself to the deadliest mass shooter in U.S. history. Yet, I can’t escape the fact that the life of the ISIS-sympathizing militant so closely paralleled mine.
Like Omar Mateen, I grew up Afghan, American, Muslim, and (if he truly was gay) a repressed homosexual. Although I grew up in a household that didn’t support the Taliban, I was still socialized in the same cultural milieu that had a zero tolerance for gays.
In my teens; while living in Irvine, Calif., I was cursed by my father, who repeatedly called me a kuni, a derogatory word equivalent to “fag,” because I loved to dance and acted effeminate. At the mosque, I heard sermons preach homosexuality as an illness and sin and justify the death penalty for gays and lesbians. My entire youth was tainted with fear, guilt, intimidation, shame and untold repression stemming from my same-gender attraction and the psychological violence I was subjected to because of my Afghan roots and Muslim faith.