Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gays and Lesbians in Orlando to Trump: Don't Use Us to Bash Muslims

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Gays and Lesbians in Orlando to Trump: Don't Use Us to Bash Muslims

Article excerpt

Gays in Orlando wary of Trump's embrace

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Some gays and lesbians appear determined to wriggle free of Donald Trump's embrace as he suddenly throws his arms around their community as an election issue.

Their discomfort was evident during a recent vigil for victims of Orlando's massacre.

A sea of people produced some of the loudest applause in response to clear digs against the presumptive Republican nominee. Speakers made veiled references to his new pro-gay, anti-Muslim message.

Trump promises to keep Muslims out of the U.S. in order to protect homosexuals. It was a central theme of his counter-terror speech in the wake of the U.S.'s worst gun massacre. He even started using the preferred LGBT acronym for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people he'd defend.

Some people here, apparently, don't want this being done on their behalf.

"Let us all be very clear tonight," said Chad Griffin, who worked at the Clinton White House and now leads the country's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil-rights organization, the Human Rights Campaign.

"To those who seek to divide us, LGBTQ people are Muslims and Jews. We are black, white and Latino. An attack on any one of us is an attack against every single one of us."

That drew a huge cheer from the thousands gathered for a candlelight vigil Monday night in downtown Orlando. There was a similar message from vigil organizer Carlos Guillermo Smith, who works with Equality Florida and is running for a state congressional seat as a Democrat.

He said his fight was against all phobias: Homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and Islamophobia. The crowd cheered especially loudly at the last one.

One regular patron of the Pulse nightclub, where 49 people were gunned down in cold blood and countless others were injured early Sunday, refused to slur the gunman's religion.

"I can't blame what he did on all the Muslims," Chris Callen said.

"It ain't their fault."

As a matter of fact, Callen said he believes Omar Mateen might have adopted religion as a convenient cloak, to hide his true self: "I think it was more of a cover." He'd seen Mateen multiple times at the club over a period of several years, often with a male friend and sometimes so drunk he had to be escorted out.

The one-dimensional portrait of Mateen as a bloodthirsty religious zealot is getting cloudy. …

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