The FBI is probing allegations that the Orlando gunman, Omar Mateen, was gay. The 29-year-old American-born Muslim opened fire at a gay nightclub, the Pulse, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, killing 49 people. According to the Associated Press, family and friends report that Mateen was secretly gay, though his father denies the speculation.
Among those making the accusations is the gunman’s ex-wife, Sitora Yusufiy, who said that Omar Mateen had gay tendencies and was mentally unstable. Sitora had been married to Mateen for three months in 2009. She described him as controlling and abusive. Sitora also said that Mateen’s father had called the gunman gay in front of her.
Yusufiy said, “Well, when we had gotten married, he confessed to me about his past that was recent at that time and that he very much enjoyed going to clubs and the nightlife and there was a lot of pictures of him. I feel like it’s a side of him or a part of him that he lived but probably didn’t want everybody to know about,” she said.
Seddique Mateen, the Orlando gunman’s father, took to the air to defend his son’s honor, saying he was not gay and that Omar Mateen was driven to kill by his hatred of gays. Seddique said his son may have frequented the bar but only because he was “scouting the place.” The gunman’s father said that Omar Mateen got angry a few months ago after seeing a couple of men kissing but denied any other anti-gay behavior from his son.
Psychologists have speculated that Omar Mateen was sexually conflicted, and because of that, the gunman lashed out against gays, the very thing that tormented him. Studies have shown that some men who have suppressed homosexual desires may exhibit anti-gay opinions, especially if their families oppose homosexuality.
Michael Newcomb, a Northwestern University psychologist said, “People who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity do at times react to that by doing the exact opposite, which could be to become more masculine or more vocal about their ideals of a traditional family.”
Patrons who frequented the Pulse report that the Orlando gunman was a regular at the club. Jim Van Horn, 71, told the Associated Press that he saw Mateen repeatedly at the bar and talked to him once.
“He was a homosexual and he was trying to pick up men,” Van Horn said. “He would walk up to them and then he would maybe put his arm around them or something and maybe try to get them to dance a little bit or something.”
The New York Post reports that a former classmate of the Orlando gunman’s said that Mateen had asked him out romantically and that the gunman had frequented the Pulse nightclub several times over years.
“We went to a few gay bars with him and I was not out at the time so I declined his offer,” the former classmate told the paper.
Chris Callen, a drag queen who performs under the name Kristina McLaughlin, said the Orlando gunman had been going to the Pulse for years. “It’s the same guy, He’s been going to this bar for at least three years.”
Callen’s husband, Ty Smith, said he had seen Mateen get escorted out of the club. “Sometimes he… would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent.”
“[He’d get] really, really drunk,” Smith said. “He couldn’t drink when he was at home — around his wife or family. His father was really strict… He used to bitch about it.”
Callen and Smith said they both stopped speaking to Mateen after he threatened them with a knife when someone made a joke about religion. “He ended up pulling a knife,” Callen explained. “He said if he ever messed with him again, you know how it’ll turn out.”
They also disputed claims that Mateen would have been upset after seeing two men kissing in public. “That’s bullcrap, right there. No offense. That’s straight-up crap. He’s been around us,” Smith said. “Some of those people did a little more than (kiss) outside the bar … He was partying with the people who supposedly drove him to do this?”
Investigators have found that the Orlando gunman used gay apps to connect to other gay men. An Orlando man, who declined to be identified, said he had seen the Orlando gunman on several gay dating apps including Grindr, Adam4Adam, and Jack’d.
“He was very creepy in his messages, and I blocked him immediately,” the man said.
[Photo by Rick Rycroft/AP Images]