Post Orlando: North Students Open Up About Gay Rights, Islamophobia, and Gun Violence

Frances Sheets, Reporter

It was a late summer night, or early summer morning, depending on how you look at it. Latin night at Pulse, a popular Orlando, Flor. gay club, was slowly winding down, a DJ still spinning as people danced and made merry. Suddenly, people started screaming. Across the dance floor stalked a young man, holding an assault rifle in one hand and a handgun in the other. Omar Mateen shot ceaselessly as club goers scattered, some not making it all the way to the door.

Gay Rights — Pulse was a gay nightclub, and the shooting was the deadliest attack ever against LGBTQ+ people, which caused nation-wide upset and controversy.

Here in Bloomington, the LGBTQ+ community was just as panicked.

For Alec Deorto, sophomore at North and a member of Prism and United Students, expressed that the significance of the event didn’t register right away.

Deorto, who identifies as non-binary and asexual, was at the Indianapolis Pride festival the day before the shootings. Deorto identifies as non-binary, and uses the pronoun is ‘they,’ as opposed to ‘he’ or ‘she.’

Deorto said that the significance of the shooting didn’t register right away. Once they realized how big of a deal it was, Deorto was upset.

“Now I’m afraid to walk around with my backpack because it has so many [gay] pins on it,” they said.

Deorto says they’ve never felt specifically afraid of any situation, more of just a general fear of the hatred that is sometimes aimed towards the queer community.

“It’s never been so bad that I’ve felt like I had to evacuate out of a spot or something,” Deorto said.

Member of the Quarryland Men’s Chorus sports a bold t-shirt at Bloomington’s Candlelight Vigil honoring Orlando this June. 











Islamophobia — However, the shooting wasn’t just controversial because of Pulse’s identity as a gay club.

Since 911, America has been especially aware of what we call terrorism. There are many different viewpoints on what terrorism really is, but usually, attacks are categorized as “terrorist” when perpetrated by someone of Middle Eastern descent.  

In a roughly 50 second call to 9-1-1 during the attack, Mateen pledged his allegiance to the Sunni militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

North Freshman Yusuf Noffel said he is sick and tired of seeing terrorism on the news. Noffel, whose family is Muslim, is upset by the recent acts of hate, especially when they are done in the name of Islam. He said he is disappointed that someone who calls himself a Muslim would do such a thing in the name of the religion.

“In my opinion, Islamophobia is just hate coming from relatively uneducated people,” Noffel said.

“You can’t judge 1.7 billion people by the actions of a terrorist group that kill in our name; although they call themselves muslim, that’s the furthest from what they are.”

Noffel is surrounded by a loving family and a supportive group of friends. He said that he has never come across many people that have a strong objection to his faith. He is proud of and comfortable with his religion, and he goes to the mosque, prays, and “practices being respectful to others.” However, he recognizes that not everyone feels this way about Muslims.

“These terrorist attacks probably affect us Muslims more than anyone else,” Noffel said. “Terrorist groups attack innocent people and tarnish the name of Islam, worsening our reputation across the globe. It’s very sad to think that people hate Islam for these things.”

A candle is lit for the victims of Orlando and all mass shootings alike.











Gun Violence — And of course, there were guns. Over the past several years, we have seen a new trend arise nationwide. There have been more concentrated mass shootings than ever before, starting with the shooting at an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Conn.

Guns have become one of the most controversial topics in our country. The shooter, Mateen, entered Pulse with a handgun and an assault rifle, shooting simultaneously with both weapons. Mateen, the shooter, fired 110 rounds, killing 49 and wounding over 50 others.

Alex Hadley, North senior, has grown up around guns. The son of a marine, he is accustomed to his family owning, and using, firearms. However, his father only uses guns for hunting and target practice, and he is well versed in gun safety.

“I’ve grown up in a family where gun safety is extremely enforced,” Hadley said, “Safety is the first thing you learned.”

Hadley does support gun ownership, but not in a very gung-ho guns way. He supports extensive background checks, waiting periods, and psychological evaluations. Hadley thinks that guns should be more of a disciplined hobby, and they should only be for people that treat them as such.

“[There should] definitely be security, especially here in America, because so many tragedies have occurred from [gun violence],” Hadley said, “but the total absence of [guns] isn’t going to fully change [anything].”

Despite his belief that guns should be a part of a society, Hadley said that after seeing all of the recent gun violence in the country, he does understand why someone would want to ban guns completely.

“It is a logical reaction,” he said, “there is something there that causes so much horror and so much sadness, it’s reasonable to just want to outlaw them entirely.”

But in all likelihood, guns aren’t going anywhere. They have been a part of society for a long time, and they probably will keep their position.

For Noffel, it’s being Muslim. For Deorto, it’s being part of the LGBTQ+ community, and for Hadley, it’s being pro-gun. They each have something that sets them apart, just like every other member of our school community. But should these things set them apart?

Honestly, we don’t categorize our friends on whether they’re LGBT or not,” Noffel said, when asked how his family felt about LGBTQ+ people, “We don’t really care, and it’s not our business to judge anyone.”

This is a valuable lesson to all. All that can be said is: stand up for what you believe in, and respect others that are doing the same.  



Asexual – someone who does not experience sexual attraction towards anyone

Non-binary – a gender identity that is not necessarily traditionally male or female

LGBTQ+ – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (or Queer)