I want to begin with an apology.

On air this week, I’ve been talking about the Orlando shooting as an act of homophobic violence against LGBT people. I want to emphasize that fact, because there are a lot of people out there who’d prefer to ignore the homophobia. There are some who have spent their lives attacking gays and lesbians who are now trying to make this their issue by making it all about Islam, attacking Muslims, and trying to convince us they’re the ones who really care about LGBT people when we all know they don’t. Bull. No, this was about homophobia, and that’s what I’ve been trying to emphasize all week.

Listen to Aaron’s commentary:

 

But there’s one very important detail I haven’t mentioned. And that is the fact that this murder didn’t just take place in a gay nightclub – it took place in a gay nightclub on Latin Night. The vast majority of the people who were killed were Latino and Latina.

I didn’t mention that fact at first because I thought it was a coincidence. I assumed a guy planning to attack a gay club probably isn’t going to care what’s happening that particular night.

But now we know what we didn’t know before: Omar Mateen, apparently, went to the Pulse nightclub numerous times. He was apparently struggling with his own sexuality too. I don’t know why he did what he did or why he did it when he did it – but yes, he probably knew it was Latin night when he went in there.

So I apologize. I’ve been struggling with Orlando for the last three days, but I’m white. God, Latino people, Latina people, who are lesbian, gay, bi, trans – they’ve got it that much worse right now. This hit them. This was an attack on them. And we need to call that out too.

There have been vigils all over our community this week. I’ve missed some because I was on the air, but I made it to the one Tuesday in Durham. There were hundreds of people on the street. There was no fear, by the way. Anger, but no fear. We’re past fear. And we’re past hate. Hundreds of people, and everyone was together. White people, black people, brown people. Christians, Muslims, atheists.

Orlando vigil in Durham 061416

Down the road in Greensboro, Donald Trump was speaking in the Coliseum. Trying to make this his issue. Trying to convince people that the best way to respond to fear and hate is to stir up more fear and more hate.

There are people who believe him.

But the people at the vigil in Durham, and the people at the vigils in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and the people at the vigils all over America, the people who actually care about the LGBT community – we know better.

This is not the time to ban Islam.

This is not the time to end immigration.

This is sure as hell not the time to build a wall between us and the Latin world.

This is not the time for more fear and more hate.

This is the time to double down on love.

You want to fight fear and hatred?

Double down on love…

I learned something in Durham last night. There was a Spanish translator there. And he was trying very hard to be gender-neutral. When you’re speaking Spanish, see, it’s not easy to be gender-neutral. Every noun is gendered, every adjective is a little different depending on whether you’re talking about a masculine thing or a feminine thing. The word “beautiful,” in Spanish, is “bello” – if it’s masculine. If it’s feminine, it’s “bella.” If you’re trying to be totally gender-free, you have to invent a third word, “bell-x.”

It’s very confusing.

But when you put it all together, when you’re truly gender-inclusive…

Then it turns into something really beautiful.

“Bello, bella, bellx.”

This translator used that phrase, several times.

“Bello, bella, bellx.”

It’s like a mantra.

“Bello, bella, bellx.”

That’s the phrase that was running through my head when I was listening to the speakers.

There were two in particular, two LGBT Muslims – devout Muslims who follow the faith, whose families follow the faith, who have struggled with their sexuality, and who have reconciled their sexuality with their Muslim faith, because you don’t have to choose one or the other any more than you have to choose between being gay and being a Christian.

They stood up at that vigil last night and witnessed. They preached to the LGBT community and the Muslim community that it’s not only possible to come together, it’s right to come together. Islam compels us to love each other, just as Christianity compels us to love each other. There are lots and lots of people out there who think otherwise, but those people are wrong and we need to keep telling the world they’re wrong.

Bello, bella, bellx.

Donald Trump wants to stop immigration. He wants to harass Muslims and Latino/Latina people.

Here in North Carolina, the General Assembly is still trying to keep transgender people out of bathrooms, to allow people to kick you out of their stores or restaurants if they don’t like who you choose to love.

In Florida there are still dozens of people in the hospital, some of them still in grave condition. If this had happened two years ago, their partners wouldn’t have been allowed to visit them in the hospital. If they died, their partners wouldn’t have had any control over their funeral arrangements.

Their partners still aren’t allowed to give blood, even now.

I know people today who are still in the closet, who are afraid to come out because they’re afraid of being disowned by their own families. They’re not wrong to worry. I know people who did come out and did get disowned. Disowned by the people who are out there now trying to make Orlando their issue, trying to convince you that it’s all about the Muslims, it’s all about the foreigners, stop the Muslims, stop the foreigners.

Those people don’t care about the LGBT community.

We need to be listening to the people who do.

Most of us have probably heard Mr. Rogers’ quote about helpers. When he was a boy and he saw scary things on the news, tragedies and disasters and horrific acts of violence, he said this:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

Who are the helpers now?

Who are the people out there working to make this better?

They are the people who are actively working to promote tolerance and acceptance and love in communities and cultures where fear and hate are in danger of taking over.

They are the LGBT people and their allies in the Muslim community, who are speaking out right now against fear and hate.

They are the Christian leaders who are standing up in the pulpits and declaring, loudly, that God made Adam and Steve just as much as he made Adam and Eve, because God made everybody and everybody is equally worthy of God’s love.

They are Republicans, like the lieutenant governor of Utah, Spencer Cox, who got up at a vigil on Monday night and told the crowd his heart had changed. These brave folks are standing up to the Donald Trumps of the world and saying, as Spencer Cox did, “There is only one way for us to come together. We must learn to truly love one another.”

They are athletes speaking out against homophobia in the locker rooms.

They are public figures speaking out against homophobia in movies, on TV, in the streets.

And they are ordinary people, like you and me, who are doing their little part every single day to make this a slightly more loving world.

Because that is the way we prevent another Orlando. That is the way we fight this.

No more fear. No more hate.

Double down on love.

Bello. Bella. Bellx.