Violinist plays powerful ‘This is Me’ to drown out hate speech in Florida neighbourhood

9 November 2020, 14:58 | Updated: 9 November 2020, 15:00

Violinist plays to drown out hate speech
Violinist plays to drown out hate speech. Picture: Stephen Neil/Facebook

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

In violence versus violins, music once again silences hate.

A violinist has gone viral over the weekend for playing ‘This is Me’, the foot-stomping empowerment anthem from The Greatest Showman, to drown out the sound of homophobic slurs from street protestors.

The musical moment took place on 3 November as election night started to unfold.

Protestors gathered in the South Florida neighbourhood of Wilton Manors, known as a destination for the LGBT+ community, and began to heckle people with a megaphone.

Musician Stephen Neil took out his electric violin and an amplifier, and broadcast his music-making on Facebook Live. He received an overwhelmingly amount of support on the video, which now has more than 20,000 views.

Read more: Trombonist drowns out ‘racist’ Anti-BLM protester in university protest >

Posted by Stephen Neil on Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Neil said he had called the police, who had already received several calls about the homophobic protestors. As Neil was filming, he says the police arrived to “monitor” the situation.

But, Neil tells CBS Miami, he “decided the best way to combat hate is with a message of love”.

To the US violinist, the song ‘This is Me’ felt “fitting” to the partisan moment. “I just thought it was fitting to show them that we’re not going to stand down in the face of adversity. We’re going to push back but in a kind and loving way,” he said.

“This is who we are. We accept each other, we even accept them.”

Read more: Anti-LGBTQ street preacher drowned out with saxophones on New York street >

He went on to play ‘Just the Way You Are’ by Bruno Mars and Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, until the protestors eventually dispersed.

“I still accept them, I do not judge them,” Neil says in the video. “And I wanted to do something different, and show them that you can still be a positive influence on the world without resorting to what they’re doing.”