As I walked through Blackpool on Pride weekend I reached for my girlfriend’s hand. Just for a moment I hesitated, then laughed at myself – here, in an LGBT friendly town, on Pride weekend, I shouldn’t be scared of showing affection to the woman I love. It was almost as safe a space as a gay club. I gave her a kiss.

That day Omar Mateen walked into Pulse, a gay club in Orlando and killed 49 people. Apparently, because he had seen two men kissing in the street. Suddenly the world feels a lot less safe.

Most of the mainstream press and many people on social media are trying to focus on the murderer’s excuse of Islam. Because that’s what it is, an excuse. If he was a white man shouting that a Christian God had told him to murder LGBT people then the religious claim would have been ignored. Presidential candidates would not be congratulating themselves for being right about extremist Christianity.

We should be ignoring Mateen’s ridiculous excuse for an evil act and concentrating on the people who lost their lives simply for having a night out with their friends in a venue where they felt safe. The worldwide LGBT community is in mourning and we need to take this sorrow and become stronger. We must not let the bigots win.

My boyfriend and his son went along to a vigil in Blackpool, even an 11-year-old was angry and sad enough to want to go. I suppose I am relieved that my daughters are too young to really understand, and I hope they will never have to try and understand things like this, except in History class.

Mateen has failed in one significant way – social media is full of people coming out for the first time, and I will definitely be making more of an effort to support my local gay clubs and safe spaces.

See you at Pride.

.Alicia Duffy

[Alicia asked for her payment to be donated to the Pulse Victims Fund]

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