15/06/2016 05:21 BST | Updated 15/06/2017 06:12 BST

We Stand Together

The terrible and terrifying mass shooting in Orlando at the weekend has shaken everyone. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of those who were there, and the family and friends of those who were murdered. Aside from the absolute need for gun laws to be changed in the USA, so too do many changes need to happen around the world.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that the best nights out of my life have been in gay venues. Throughout Soho there's a feeling of acceptance everywhere. In New York I was taught by a dear friend all about the history and the fight for equality led by the LGBT community while we sat in the Stonewall Inn sipping beer and wondering when the people I adored would get to stop fighting. I lived in Chelsea where many people from all over the world , from all walks of life let me feel like their family. In Belfast here in Union Street or the Kremlin we have danced and laughed and loved one another - and I've always felt so safe there. The thought that anyone could take a sanctuary away from my friends and family - let alone the fact that it's even needed - is a source of anger and pain.

I live in Northern Ireland where we are ruled by those with the most obnoxious religious beliefs, yet even in this small country we're moving forward. Painfully slowly, but still, moving towards a distant better future. I'm part of the generation in which people haven't been so closed minded, where I've been taught by my parents to see that love IS love, no matter what. As a straight white woman, I do however recognise that I'm privileged and that while I'll have my own trials in search for equality away from misogyny, I've never known, and will never know the discrimination that those I love have felt in their daily lives. I've heard ignorant views spoken, I know many people who judge. It baffles me, but I even know some who claim to have never met a gay person - pray tell, how WOULD you know? I know folks who have said they don't 'agree' with anyone of the LGBT community, I've been lectured about a so called 'gay agenda' by people I considered intelligent till that moment, and the general consensus is 'whatever your belief is, I suppose it's your own', Free speech etc..

But honestly, after the slaughter of those who were just out to have some fun, to have simple joy for a few hours, it cannot be ok to stand on the side lines and condone anyone with backward thinking. We cannot allow another massacre, and if we don't speak up, if we don't use our votes and our powers as citizens of the world, then we ARE letting it happen. If you think being gay is a choice, you're WRONG. If you think being gay is against any god you believe in, YOU'RE WRONG. If you think there is anything negative about being gay, lesbian, trans-sexual or bisexual - YOU'RE WRONG. WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY, WRONG SIDE OF FACTS, WRONG SIDE OF EVERYTHING.

"The only thing necessary for triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"