As the world comes to terms with the brutal homophobic terrorist attack on LGBT people in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 people, more chilling details about the incident are still emerging each day.
But these latest details to emerge indicate that the gunman, Omar Mateen, may have actually been gay himself and was leading a double life.
Originally, many believed his horrific attack on Pulse nightclub was was a homophobic attack, rooted in the extremist ideology of Daesh.
But now his ex-wife and several clubbers have come forward to suggest that Mateen was gay and had been visiting Pulse for the past three years, drinking alcohol and dancing with men.
It’s also been revealed that Mateen used gay dating apps Grindr and Jack’d to chat to men online.
Speaking to New York Daily News, Mateen’s first wife, Sitora Yusufiy, 27, said that his family believe he murdered the 49 victims because he was in denial about who he really was and not because he was a fighter for the so-called Islamic State.
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. So, 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.
Yusufiy also spoke on a Brazilian TV station yesterday, joined by her fiance, Marcio Dias.
Dias told the channel that Yusufiy told him Mateen had ‘gay tendencies’ and had been called gay in front of her on several occasions by his father.
He also said that she didn’t believe that Mateen’s supposed beliefs were at the root of his attack.
Yusufiy had told the FBI that he was mentally unstable, but didn’t believe he was part of the terrorist organisation – despite him pledging allegiance with Daesh before the attack and the group later claiming responsibility for the attack.
He added: “The FBI asked her not to tell this to the American media.”
A former classmate also told the Palm Beach Post that he believed that Mateen was gay, as he had asked him out on a date while they were in high school together.
Four other people who regularly visited the nightclub told the Orlando Sentinel that they had seen Mateen there before.
One of the clubs regular patrons, Ty Smith, said:
Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent.
Another regular at the club, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that he had exchanged messages with Mateen last year over dating app Jack’d, but never met in person until West saw him outside the club, an hour before the shooting.
It seems Mateen appeared to regularly interact with men over gay dating apps, with one man telling MSNBC that he recognised Mateen’s photo from Grindr.
Cord Cedeno claimed that he was ‘very creepy’ when he sent messages and immediately blocked him. Cedeno added that several of his friends had also seen Mateen on apps including Adam4Adam and Jack’d.
Whether these claims are true or not, and whatever his motives, we cannot forget that 49 people lost their lives tragically young in the attack.
Our thoughts are with their friends and family during this difficult time.