Meeting Hate with Love

Pride Center vigil: June 12, 2016

Pride Center vigil: June 12, 2016


It is the day of the mass shooting in Orlando as I write this. It has seemed a long day — and obviously a very sad one for all caring human beings who are aware of this tragedy. But even as a gunman took so many lives out of his hate for gay Americans, even on this very day, something hopeful already emerged. I wanted to tell you about it while it’s fresh on my mind.

I’ve just returned from a vigil at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors, Florida, something hurriedly arranged to help LGBT folks and allies come together to help each other cope. The Humanity Project is a proud LGBT ally — never more proud or resolute than now in our determination to teach children the importance of respect, diversity and self-value. Our work with kids recently was sponsored by Our Fund, a foundation that serves the LGBT community. We attended the Pride Center vigil to show our support. But while I was there something remarkable happened.

A speaker standing on the podium asked the crowd of at least 500 people to each think of one word. He said, “I want you to shout out the one word that’s most on your mind today, the thing you really want to share with the world. Tell me — what is the one word you each want to say out loud right now?”

The resounding answer: “Love!” I’ve never witnessed anything quite like this. I’m a former journalist who covered many events of many types, including violent crimes. I’ve traveled to 53 countries and sampled many cultures in many ways. But no, I’ve never seen anything like this. Think about it: On the day of a mass slaughter directed at the LGBT community, the one word shouted by hundreds of LGBT people and allies as a response to the shooter’s hatred was … “love.” I think that says a lot about the LGBT community. And about human beings. There are a lot more of us than there are of them – many more people who want to live love rather than hate. In the midst of an awful day that will be remembered for hatred, some of us will recall it differently. Oddly, June 12, 2016 turned out to be a day of love.