17/06/2016 11:24 BST | Updated 15/06/2017 06:12 BST

Let Orlando Make Us Stronger

On June 12th 2016 the USA suffered its worst mass shooting in modern history. Orlando suffered the loss of many young people. The world suffered from yet another terrorist attack. And the LGBT+ community suffered yet another reminder that we are still living in a world that won't accept us.

This tragedy, disaster, massacre, whatever you choose to call it, was not just another attack on the free people of the world. This is not just another Paris, Belgium, Istanbul, Pakistan, Egypt, Syria, ect. This is not about extremists and gun safety and America. This is about the shunned and the neglected. We've taken your hate, your pickets, your fists and your discrimination. We've stood against your ignorance. But this is different.

I know couples who won't hold hands in the street for fear of being hurt. I have friends who have been verbally attacked in public places. On a day when our community suffers the most some of us can't even donate blood. Because gay is a dirty word.

Pulse acted as a safe space, one of many that house and protect us. For somewhere we saw as a place of refuge to be targeted is terrifying. When you lose that, it's hard to imagine feeling safe anywhere. In a society where homophobic remarks and behaviour are the norm, and are accepted as a part of everyday life, it's easy to feel frozen out. I can't count the amount of times I've bitten my tongue for fear of being rejected. It's time to realise that this is wrong.

It shocks and alarms me that when a man walks into a gay club and massacres 50 people, some will pretend as if it is not an act of homophobia. This is, and was, a blatant attack on a community built on nothing other than love. If someone told you your love was disgusting, how would it make you feel?

I've always known that minorities suffer for who they are, but never before have I been as exposed to something like Orlando. It has shaken me, my community and seemingly the rest of the world. In some ways the attack has separated us from everyone, showing the difference between us all. But in other ways it has also brought us together. It has been heart-warming to see images of the vigils and marches. The comfort and love we have all given each other has made me hope for a day when we can all truly be equal.

Thankfully, a phoenix will always rise from the ashes, and it has this week. More and more members of our LGBT+ family have 'come out' and refused to be repressed any longer. The solidarity that comes from tragedy can be seen as the tiniest silver lining on the darkest storm cloud. I can only dream that this attack will open the eyes of those who judge and belittle us. It should be the aspiration of us all to achieve a more fair and diverse society.

After thousands of years, you'd think that's not much to ask.

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