University of Missouri graduate and activist Tiffany Melecio stood in front of a microphone outside the Boone County Courthouse in Columbia, Missouri, and addressed the crowd gathered Monday evening.
It was vigil honoring the victims of the deadly Orlando terror attack at a gay nightclub the day before. But Melecio — who's Hispanic and bisexual, the College Fix said — talked about something else.
"I was really nervous to get up here because there's a lot of white people in the crowd," she said to her audience. When a chuckle was heard, she added, "That wasn't a joke."
“I wish this many people came out to our racial demonstrations and our Black Lives Matter movement,” Melecio said before deciding to take a moment to "list out some facts that many of you probably don't know."
She then shrugged her shoulders and added, "Because you're white."
“I’m tired of the black-and-white dichotomy that happens every time we talk about race or anything that goes on in our country,” Melecio continued, using a noticeably monotone, almost tired, delivery as she seemed to lecture the crowd. “But we never take the time to consider the shades in between — like mine.”
The Orlando terrorist attack occurred on "Latin Night" at the Pulse nightclub.
She noted it's "awesome that there’s so many people here today, but it’s like, who are you really here for?”
One woman in the audience yelled out an answer: “We’re here for everybody!”
That exclamation drew cheers and applause, and then Carl Brizendine added his own retort.
“We are here to be uniting, not dividing, which is what you are doing now,” he yelled toward the stage.
Brizendine, along with his husband Daniel, began walking away from the vigil when Stephanie Hernandez Rivera — Mizzou's Multicultural Center Coordinator — took over the microphone.
“So if you feel uncomfortable with the fact that people who are murdered are Latino people, that is a personal problem!” she said, according to the College Fix. “You cannot be an ally to one person ... and I don't have to argue with you!"
As another voice in crowd protested: "It's about everybody, not just one person ... or one color! It's about all of us! All of us that have to live on this earth! It's got nothing to do with white, black, Indian, hispanic, anything!”
At that point the Brizendines were interviewed outside the vigil, and they were angry that the gathering became a racial flashpoint.
"They're segregating us, right there on stage, they are segregating us as a community,” Carl Brizendine said on camera. “They are making it a racial issue.”
Daniel Brizendine said he's "tired" that within his LGBT community "everything has to be divided into color, into race. We don't have to look like each other, but we do have to understand each other."
"I expected a community to come together, everyone," Carl Brizendine said, adding that instead he "got someone speaking on stage making it all about her culture ... that's not what this is about."
Daniel Brizendine posted on Facebook Monday night about the incident: "I am tired and angry and sad that some people in Columbia had to make our vigil tonight into a race issue. This was a homophobic attack and nothing more nothing else."
His post drew positive responses. One noted: "I am honestly shaken by her petty self-absorbed attention seeking. Something that was supposed to be beautiful once again hijacked by people who want to make everything about them."