Univision aired a shocking interview on Tuesday with a man who claims that Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was his lover for two months — and that Mateen’s deadly rampage was specifically targeted at gay Latinos.
The man, who called himself "Miguel," spoke on condition of anonymity and had his voice and appearance altered for an exclusive interview with Univision Noticias anchor Maria Elena Salinas, conducted in both English and Spanish.
Miguel told Salinas that he met Mateen on the gay dating app Grindr, and that after that they became "friends with benefits" for two months. He said Mateen was "100 percent gay," and that his wife knew.
Miguel said the FBI interviewed him three times about his relationship with Mateen. Univision wasn’t able to independently verify Miguel’s story, but said the FBI did confirm having met with him. Miguel also claimed that surveillance footage from the hotel he and Mateen stayed at together would prove that Mateen was with him.
Miguel said he believes Mateen’s shooting spree that killed 49 people wasn’t an act of terrorism but rather an act of "revenge" against gay Latino men.
"He adored Latinos, gay Latinos, with brown skin — but he felt rejected," Miguel said. "He felt used by them. There were moments in the Pulse nightclub that made him feel really bad. Guys used him. That really affected him. I believe this crazy, horrible thing he did — that was revenge."
Miguel said the hatred of Puerto Ricans in particular was because Mateen believed he may have been infected with HIV during a threesome with two Puerto Rican men. He’d had a negative HIV test, but it was too soon to know if he’d gotten HIV from that encounter in particular, because it takes several months for antibodies to form.
Miguel said he was shocked by Mateen’s actions because he knew Mateen to be a "very sweet guy" who loved to be cuddled, and who talked about how Islam is a religion of love. This description is a striking contrast with the violent, volatile man others have said Mateen was, and with Mateen’s stated loyalty to ISIS.
Miguel speculated that Mateen may have pledged loyalty to ISIS because he wanted to "die a hero," and because of arguments he had had with his father, Seddique Mateen, over Islam and homosexuality. Miguel said Mateen’s father thought gay people were "the devil" and "have to die" — sentiments that were included in a Facebook video statement by Seddique Mateen the day after the shooting. Miguel also said Mateen believed that if his father found out he was gay, he would want Mateen to kill Miguel to "honor" his father and win his forgiveness.
It is still unclear how factual Miguel’s story is. But if his description of Mateen’s motives is accurate, it would be a remarkable twist in the emerging narrative of how and why the worst mass shooting and anti-LGBTQ hate crime in modern US history happened. It would challenge the idea that Mateen was truly motivated by terrorism or allegiance to ISIS. And it would mean that it was no accident the Pulse shooting happened on Latin night — that the attack was a hate crime specifically against gay Latino men.