No matter what, he picked a gay club. He carried out his attack during Pride month, on a weekend when cities across the country, from Washington, D.C. to Detroit to Los Angeles, are hosting celebrations and parades. This is an unprecedented shooting attack in scale and violence, but not in kind. It is an extraordinary example of an extremely common kind of violence in the United States: hate-motivated attacks on LGBT people.
In a 2011 analysis of FBI hate-crime statistics, the Southern Poverty Law Center found that “LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be the target of a violent hate-crime than Jews or black people,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center. Because the population of LGBT Americans is relatively small, and the number of hate crimes against that group is significant, LGBT individuals face a higher risk than other groups of being the victim of an attack. “They are more than four times as likely as Muslims, and almost 14 times as likely as Latinos,” Potok added. Sexual orientation motivated roughly 20 percent of hate crimes in 2013, according to the FBI; the only factor that accounted for more was race.