The culture guru joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and a number of LGBTQ rights advocates ― including some survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting ― in speaking out against gun violence in the nation’s capital. Speaking at HRC’s Spring Equality Convention that day, Brown revealed that he’d graduated from Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the Feb. 14 massacre that left 17 dead.
“When I saw on the news a few weeks back that my alma mater was being called the site of the world’s deadliest school massacre, you all cannot imagine how much my heart broke,” Brown, a 1999 graduate of Stoneman Douglas, told convention attendees in an impassioned speech, which can be viewed above.
One of Brown’s classmates was Aaron Feis, an assistant football coach and security guard at Stoneman Douglas who was killed after reportedly using his body to create a human shield between students and accused gunman Nikolas Cruz.
“I rooted for [Feis] when he played football, and cheered him on as we graduated on the same day, same year,” Brown recalled. Feis, he said, chose to return to Stoneman Douglas as a coach because he “wanted to give back to the students what he and I had received from our teachers, which was unconditional love, a relentless encouragement to be fearless in your passions and a clear guidance on how to achieve your dreams.”
“I do see Aaron in them,” he said. “I also see my teachers, and I see my teachers’ teachers, and I see a long legacy of people that have passed down lessons rooted in strength and resiliency.”
“Our kids are teaching us how to finally declare, ‘Enough is enough,’ and demand a legislative change,” he added.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight Saturday, Brown said, “Anytime someone gets shot, whether it’s an unarmed African American male, or whether it’s a school shooting, my sons [Jason, 21, and Chris, 17] come to my mind.”
“I can’t help but think about the parents who are grieving for their children that are lost,” he said, “because no parent should ever outlive their child.”