Rosie O'Donnell has received a fair share of backlash after saying she was afraid of little people recently on her Chicago-based talk show, but one Chicago little person believes the comments may be a good thing in the long run.
"I'm a little ashamed about it [but] I have a mild fear or anxiety around little people," O'Donnell told Chelsea Handler, who features little person Chuy Bravo on her own show. She later added, "The problem with me is I can't put the two things together. This is an adult person, a little person...it's so hard for me."
[Scroll down to see the original segment.]
Little People of America (LPA) spokesperson Leah Smith called O'Donnell's comments offensive and accused her of contributing to "fear-based attitudes."
"Instead of perpetuating these fears, let's learn how to accept differences," Smith told HuffPost Weird News.
But Chicago-based musician and composer Chris Errera, who is four feet tall, created a video response thanking O'Donnell and Handler for starting a dialogue that may lead to greater acceptance of size differences. [See video above.]
"I totally get why you feel the way you do," Errera says, referring to Rosie's fear, which she says she inherited from her grandmother. "Just because your Nana was afraid, doesn't mean you have to be afraid also."
Smith said the LPA found O'Donell's statements more problematic than Handler's (which compared little people to children) because she inaccurately attributes her phobia to heredity.
In his response, Errera offers to meet Rosie and dispel her fears, promising she'd see him as "someone to love." He later challenges both women to be more accepting of others' differences. O'Donnell has previously campaigned against bullying.
"Every day when I wake up, I don't think of myself as short, small, or lesser than anybody else," Errera said. "I think of myself as Chris. This is not Rosie's world, nor Chelsea's world, not even mine. It's our world. It belongs to all of us equally...We all deserve to be accepted the way we are...I will if you will."
Neither Handler or O'Donnell's camps have yet responded to the outcry that followed their conversation.
See Rosie's chat with Chelsea Handler that sparked the controversy: