As a group, Proud & Palace decided a little while ago that we were here to talk football, and Palace, but be open about our identity as LGBT. We did not see ourselves becoming too political. The events in Orlando are, however, too big not to comment on.
When news of the mass shooting in Orlando first broke I was heart broken for the victims, and for their families and friends. There are too many senseless acts of violence in this world robbing innocent people of their lives. But this was one which had deliberately and aggressively attacked the LGBT community. A community of which I am proud to be a member.
The only thing which the gunman knew about the people he killed was that they were LGBT, or friends of the LGBT community. And he hated the idea of that so much he did not think those people deserved to live. By proxy, therefore, that gunman felt the same about myself. And many of my friends. To live knowing there are people in this world who would kill you for who you are is a heavy load to carry in your heart.
However, on Monday there was a new type of sadness that came over me. Why were so many member of the media failing to recognise what had happened to our community? Owen Jones was talked over and dismissed to the point of walking out on Sky News. The Daily Mail neglected to even mention the atrocity on its front page. There were lots of uses of the word "terrorism" but incredibly few mentions of "homophobia".
Even the usually brilliant Jon Snow struggled to find the right tone as he bounced between people in the crowd on Channel 4's live coverage of the Soho vigil. Unsure how to describe the atmosphere, one of our greatest broadcasters stuttered over the words. "It's almost... Well.... Almost positive, I think". For reference Jon, the word to describe it is "pride".
Friends, colleagues, people on social media didn't seem to know how to talk about it. A lot opted not to, which in itself prompted a backlash from some LGBT friends of mine. We yearned for people to understand how deeply we were effected. This was not us trying to take sole ownership of grief over the tragedy. ThIs was us dealing with the chilling realisation that there but for the grace of God were we, just as people were shouting over us and saying "no it's not about that".
Coming out of the darkness of these events, it is more important than ever for the LGBT community to raise our own voices. We cannot expect the mainstream media to speak for us. We cannot expect them to articulate the complexity of the issues we face with homophobia.
I started working with Proud & Palace for this reason, to help in my own small way to give our community a voice in an area where it did not have one. Because the vigils around the world, including the one in Soho, said more on the front page of this morning's Metro than any headline could. When we stand together as a community, our voice is undeniable.