Moving On

Some of you already know but due to circumstances beyond my control or anyone else’s my tenure with the Rainbow Project will come to an end on September 8th.

No I wasn’t fired nor did I finally pluck up the courage to tell John O’Doherty that he can’t sing (He can but it doesn’t mean he should).

Funding decisions beyond our control mean that I’ll be moving on. No hard feelings and no regrets. It has been the greatest privilege and honour of my life to work for the Rainbow Project, an organisation that very literally saved my life. To work with the team and to contribute to that work has been life changing and I can only hope that I made a difference in some small way to people’s lives for the better.

I have had the opportunity to work on the equal marriage campaign in a very real and tangible way, which is something very few people can ever say. To have had the experiences, go to the places and meet the amazing people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made is a gift that I can never repay.

Thank you to John, Gavin and the whole Rainbow, Here NI and Cara Friend family for welcoming me, supporting me and giving me a chance. Thank you to John and Gavin and Nuala and the whole team for fighting for me and for being there through what has been a year of emotional ups and downs. Thank you so much to my wonderful volunteers that have made this job a delight and not just a paycheck. I will really miss you all very much.

Nothing sucks more than being made to leave behind something you really love doing. But such is life. I am proud of the work that I have done, I am proud of the people I have worked with. In the immortal words of the Tenth Doctor, “I don’t wanna go.” but to paraphrase a famous politician from this island, I’m not going away ya know.

Onwards and upwards.

What Do The GB Parties Have To Say About NI In Their Manifestos?

I’m always interested in what the mostly GB based parties have to say about Northern Ireland when it comes to Westminster election time. I was rather ill today so instead of looking after myself I went through the manifestos one by one to find reference to Northern Ireland. Want to know what they say? Here you go:


The Conservative Party
Conservative-Party-logo

The Conservatives do stand candidates in Northern Ireland however they very rarely make any headway in elections here.

“Our steadfast belief remains that Northern Ireland’s future is best served within a stronger United Kingdom. Our commitment to the 1998 Belfast Agreement and its successors, together with the institutions they establish, is undiminished. The next Conservative government will therefore work to re-establish a strong, stable and inclusive executive at the earliest opportunity.

We will uphold the essential principle that Northern Ireland’s future should only ever be determined by democracy and consent. A Conservative government will work closely with an incoming executive to strengthen the economy even further, to improve productivity, reduce public sector dependency and promote Northern Ireland as a location for inward investment. We remain committed to the devolution of Corporation Tax powers subject to the executive demonstrating fiscal stability.

As we leave the European Union we recognise Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances and will seek to ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected.

While the number of terror attacks from dissident republican terrorists has fallen from forty in 2010 to four in 2016, the threat they pose remains severe and the need for vigilance paramount. We will continue to confront and combat those who use violence, threats and intimidation, providing the fullest possible support to the Police Service of Northern Ireland and other agencies in their work to keep the public safe and secure.

A Conservative government will continue to work for the full implementation of the 2014 Stormont House and 2015 Fresh Start Agreements. This includes new bodies for addressing the legacy of the past in fair, balanced and proportionate ways which do not unfairly focus on former members of the Armed Forces and the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The immense contribution of the security forces during the troubles should never be forgotten. We will reject any attempts to rewrite history which seek to justify or legitimise terrorism.”


Labour Party
labour-party-logo.jpg

Labour don’t stand candidates in Northern Ireland, instead supporting their sister party in the SDLP.

“The peace we have today in Northern Ireland is due to the courageous endeavours of those on all sides who have been brave enough to build it. The Good Friday Agreement, which Labour helped to negotiate, is one of the greatest achievements of Labour in office. We will continue to fully support the principles and structures inherent within the Good Friday Agreement and we remain committed to working with all sides to deliver real peace and greater prosperity to Northern Ireland.”


Liberal Democrats
Lib-Dems

The Lib Dems don’t stand candidates in Northern Ireland, however their sister party in Northern Ireland, the Alliance Party, stands in all 18 constituencies. The Lib Dem manifesto reads:

“We will oppose any moves that threaten the political stability of Northern Ireland.”

“Liberal Democrats wish to see a permanently peaceful, stable, non-sectarian and truly democratic society in Northern Ireland. We will work constructively with the political parties in Northern Ireland and with the Irish government to secure the political stability of the Northern Ireland Assembly and other institutions of the Belfast agreement and the implementation of all the recommendations of the report on disbanding paramilitary groups. In particular we are determined to:

● Maintain the common travel area and freedom of movement.
● Support local businesses by ensuring participation within the single market and customs union.
● Ensure that the international human rights protections hard wired into the Good Friday Agreement are not compromised.
● Protect the rights of Northern Ireland citizens living and working in the EU, and EU citizens living and working in Northern Ireland.
● Protect the current financial settlement and the funding of programmes supporting peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.

To grow the economy, tackle social exclusion, overcome inequality and deliver efficiencies in public services, Liberal Democrats will support policies and initiatives, such as integrated education, that promote sharing over separation and counter the cost of division.”


Plaid Cymru

plaid_thumb

Plaid Cymryu are a Welsh nationalist party so no surprise that there is no mention of Northern Ireland in their manifesto bar one instance where they mention that Wales doesn’t have its own legal system like Scotland and Northern Ireland.


Women’s Equality Party

WEP_logo

WEP’s manifesto is very sparse on any mention of Northern Ireland, primarily focusing on women’s issues and addressing gender inequality. It does say this:

“fully decriminalise abortion and protect the rights of women in Northern Ireland by offering them free reproductive health services in England, Scotland or Wales.”


Scottish National Party

 snp.jpg

The SNP manifesto, as a Scotland-only party, does not mention Northern Ireland once which isn’t exactly surprising.


UKIP

ukip-flag

Despite being a UK wide party, UKIP are not standing any candidates in Northern Ireland for the first time in a long time and their manifesto only mentions Northern Ireland by using it as an example of how England should have its own devolved parliament.


The Green Party

GPLogoGreenForWeb

Much like UKIP, the Green Party is a UK-wide party but makes absolutely no mention of Northern Ireland in their election manifesto however they do not stand candidates here, preferring to support the local NI Green Party candidates.

The Union Of Inequals

As Theresa May tours the United Kingdom (see England, Scotland & Wales) on her Brexit pre-election tour we have just about been saturated by the phrase “Strong and Stable Government”. So much so that journalists, pundits and even voters are becoming tired of it. The Prime Minister has become known for empty buzzwords and phrases that are thrown out in the face of rather pretenseless questioning on the Government’s plan for leaving the EU. We have been gifted with gems such as “Brexit means Brexit”, “Red, White & Blue Brexit” and “Coalition of Chaos” – none of which have been fleshed out to mean anything other, in my mind, than “We haven’t the foggiest idea what we’re doing or how to do it.”.

It is obvious that the Prime Minister is woefully inept when it comes to negotiating Britain’s suicidal exit from the European Union, instead using Union Jack bunting, innovative British jams and harking back to the wartime spirit of the 1940s as a fig leaf to cover what has become Governmental incompetence and inexperience. The Good Ship Brexitannia (See double-decker bus emblazoned with baseless lies) has been going from sea to shining sea across Great Britain to hammer home the message that Jeremy Corbyn is an impotent leader and that every vote for Theresa May and Conservative candidates can make a success of the Brexit process.

We aren’t fooled. My thoughts on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party aside, the Little Englander mentality that Europe is simply going to roll over and beg us to stay is a nonsense. Twenty-seven European Union members agreed unanimously, within the space of a minute, on their unified negotiation approach and Britain will indeed pay a heavy price.

Since the beginning of this year (and to a lesser extent the end of 2016) Northern Ireland has been without a functioning Executive. We have endured two Assembly elections in the space of ten months and we are faced with the prospect of yet another Assembly poll on the far side of the General Election on the 8th June (The election that the Prime Minister repeatedly promised would never happen). It behooves the Prime Minister to remind herself that Strong And Stable Government begins at home, and for the roughly fifty million of us that live outside of London that means nothing unless the Government is committed to stabilising the devolved Governments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in the process. Any hope of a devolved government in NI becoming a reality was simply dashed against the rocks when the General Election was called, demonstrating the Prime Minister’s disinterest with the stability of the only UK region to share a land border with the European Union. With Scotland voting overwhelmingly in favour of staying part of the EU, Nicola Sturgeon’s promises of a second independence referendum will likely go ahead despite any Westminster casualties that the SNP suffers at the ballot box on June 8th. For the SNP and the majority of Scottish people, their focus is on their own sovereignty and national integrity during the Brexit negotiations.

As a Unionist myself it comes across as not only bizarre but hysterically hypocritical that Theresa May would emphasise the importance of ‘coming together and not pulling apart’ when asked about a second Scottish independence referendum. As a Unionist I believe strongly in the importance of supra-national unions such as the EU. The EU has never, in my eyes, been a threat to British sovereignty or to that of any other member state. Unions are strong, they are stable and they work – but only if the people paying the taxes to grease their wheels are listened to, acknowledged and valued. We heard a lot from former PM David Cameron about the importance of reform within the EU before the referendum was decided upon, citing a lack of compromise and understanding with the EU27 as a reason for the referendum. How, in that case, can the British Government talk out of both sides of its mouth with any integrity when it uses the opposite argument against listening to the people of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and London when they voted to stay within the EU?

For the record I am not against the idea of a Scottish independence referendum. I am a Unionist in so much that I currently believe that Northern Ireland is best served as part of the United Kingdom, but a Strong And Stable Government isn’t enough. Strong and stable in the context of the Union means working together, listening to each other and promoting tolerance, democracy, justice and equality for everyone in this Union. We couldn’t be further from that fact right now. Abortion is still illegal for women in Northern Ireland, as is marriage equality for same sex couples. 1.2 million peopl are using food banks across the UK, 3.7 million children are living in poverty, women earn 9.4% less than men, homelessness has risen by 32% in England alone since 2010 and there is an average of 130 race related hate crimes committed every day in England and Wales. Brexit has widened national divisons to the point that I believe that we are not only seeing the end of Britain as a regional power, but the end of the Union itself if we continue to barrel, brakes severed, headlong into a hard Brexit with no plan, no vision and no strategy for a successful divorce.

Getting Through The Day

Without going into much detail the last 12 months have been somewhat of a whirlwind. My relationship (which was abusive in nature) fell apart and I found myself without a home. My father passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and a short fight with bronchial-pneumonia and soon after I began encountering my own health problems. Soon after I landed my dream job of working on the equal marriage campaign within the Rainbow Project, I met someone new and I was accepted into Ulster University to study Counselling & Psychotherapy. Okay so maybe a little detail was needed but as I move into the next 12 months from when all that chaos started I find myself increasingly unable to find motivation or support within myself to get out of bed or to get through the day.

It’s no secret that I have lived with anxiety and depression, at times crippling, since the age of 16 and that over the last thirteen years I have found various methods of coping and readjusting my mindset in order to function and survive. But sometimes surviving just isn’t enough. It isn’t enough to just exist as someone who has depression or who doubts themselves every single day. A soul needs more than the promise of tomorrow to keep going and lately I have found myself becoming more and more agitated by the knowledge that my father isn’t coming back.

Losing a loved one is always a shock and it’s always sudden, even if you know that it’s coming. I have been there several times before when I have lost friends and relatives but it’s a completely different animal when you are faced with the prospect of parting ways with a parent. When you’re a kid you think your mum and dad will live forever, that they’re invincible and that you’ll never have to worry because they will always keep you safe. When the day comes that you have to help them to the bathroom or feed them because they can’t feed themselves you learn to accept the fact that what you believed as a kid isn’t true and that slowly but surely you will have to say goodbye. I watched Parkinson’s disease slowly take my father away from me, my brother and my mother and it is an illness that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It is sneaky, it is slow and it robs you of the person you love in ways and means that you didn’t think possible.

I realise now that I have been so demotivated and anxious about getting out of bed in the mornings because after dad died I only took a week off work and when straight back to it. Back to work, back to uni, back to the real world with no pause for breath in between. I threw myself headlong into the hustle and bustle of the equal marriage campaign (a job that I love) and into my college work with the aim of moving forward. I thought I was fine, that I was coping and that I was doing well for having just lost my dad but the truth was that I just wasn’t dealing with it.

Running away from my grief wasn’t a healthy way of processing what had happened but it doesn’t make it any less valid as a coping mechanism. What matters is that I recognise it now for what it was and understand that grief is not a five stage process or something that can be summed up in an Insta-Quote. It’s not true either that time heals everything. It still hurts every day, it just doesn’t hurt as much on the good days and it’s important to appreciate that there is no process to this, there is no tried and tested method for getting over the loss of a loved one. Grief isn’t linear and we each embrace it differently, just as we do with everything.

I have surrounded myself with a support network that I am incredibly grateful for, I have decided to take the time I need to process my grief and to be true to my own feelings. I came very close to burning out a few months ago and I forced myself to take a much needed vacation from the world for my own good.

I find it nearly impossible to wrap my head around the fact that he is gone, and often times I find myself crying at a song, a TV show that he would have watched, even something as simple as the smell of an aftershave or joke on the radio. Truth be told I haven’t visited my father’s grave since he passed bar for once when I visited with my mother and brother  last summer. That isn’t how I want to remember him.

My father was my best friend, he was the strongest, kindest and bravest man I have ever known and I owe it to him to look after myself and to take pride in the fact that I am his son. My mental health has always been challenging and such a devastating loss is no small thing to comprehend. On the day he died I wanted to grab the nearest person in the street and scream at them. Why was the world still turning and living? My dad was dead. But it does and we have to carry on, too.

I know this post was a bit of a mess from start to finish but it’s one of the few things I’ve been able to write in the last year and I feel better for having done it. I hope that if you’re reading this and you have recently lost someone that you know you aren’t alone. There is support out there and if you don’t have anyone else you have me. We all have times in our lives when the clouds don’t want to roll away but it’s important to remember that the Sun is just behind the clouds, waiting to break through. Patience can only do so much to mend a broken heart from grief but enriching your life with those that you love (and that has to include yourself too!) and finding ways of coping with the next ten seconds, and the ten seconds after that will make it that little bit easier.

Thanks for reading x

I Was The Victim Of Coercive Control

I haven’t been myself for some time now.

Well actually that’s not true is it. I am myself, who else would I be? I’m just not the me that I like or that I want to be right now. I’m not the me that got me through the last six months. Writing this has taken a long and drawn out process of opening the laptop, typing a few sentences, deleting it and closing the laptop before mentally bullying myself about how weak and useless I am. I rarely experience bouts of writer’s block but when I do I know it’s the sign of something much deeper, darker and more sinister than a simple lack of imagination or creativity. I have had almost no desire to exercise, no attention span longer than about 10 minutes for one activity and a decreasing passion for interacting with people face to face.

I first experienced depression like this when I was about sixteen or seventeen. Back then I was a time bomb of hormones and emotions waiting to go off and about two years later I detonated like a suitcase nuke when I came out as gay. I didn’t just come out – I launched out of the closet. I was like that scene in Deep Impact where the asteroid hits the Atlantic seabed and annihilates several continents. It was a tumultuous time of regret and anguish accompanied by an incredibly painful journey of self discovery with the end result being the man I am today. But that nagging little voice in my head has always been there. Sometimes I can tune him out so that when I tell myself I’m not good enough or I don’t deserve to be happy or successful or loved I can ignore it. My inner Twitter troll as I call it. But sometimes the volume gets turned up a little too much and it distracts my focus to the point that it becomes my focus. I can hear nothing else but that voice and I can’t always fight it.

This bout of depression is something I need to tackle head on. I can’t afford to burn out and I won’t let myself burn out. I know what is causing it and I’m going to talk about it now, not for any grand reason or for publicity but this is something I need to talk about because I didn’t realise it was happening to me until it was too late.

I was the victim of coercive control.

Back in February of 2015 I met a guy by the name of Ollie* who was funny, charming, not bad looking, independently minded and kind. He was fun to be around, made me laugh, was interested in what I had to say and before long I was sure that I loved him and that he loved me too. In the September of that year we moved into his apartment together and looking back on it I know it was very fast but we were in love (or so I thought) and above all else I wanted to be settled and happy. The price I paid was that I was unsettled and deeply unhappy almost immediately.

On the day of my birthday in 2015 Ollie accused me of cheating on him, of not paying him enough attention and threatened to lock me out of the house. At one point the argument got so heated that he put his hands around my throat and I defended myself. The police were called, I was convinced that it was over and tearfully I was prepared to walk away from it. For whatever reason I second guessed what was best for me and I went back with him and stayed with him, all the while being constantly reminded by him of the time I had defended myself but never once was I allowed to mention him putting his hands on my throat first. It got to the point where he began to flatly deny that he had ever done that and that I had hit him first in a drunken, jealous rage.

The crazy thing is that after a while I started to believe it. I started to think that I had an anger issue and that I was going crazy. Over the next few months I seen my own friends less and less, as well as my own family. I almost exclusively hung out with his friends and family and anytime I mentioned making plans with my own friends he would fly into a rage, begin accusing me of cheating, threatening to lock me out of the house and tell the police that I had been beating him. Because I had by this point believed his bullshit about my anger issue I was terrified that I would be arrested and charged with domestic abuse or battery so I dropped the topics of conversation that made him angry. The list of things that triggered his emotional blackmail were things like spending my own money, wanting to see my own friends, making plans to spend time alone without him, going to my best friend’s house (This one became such a sticking point that I was expressly forbidden from seeing him unless supervised), not coming home from work immediately, not spending money on him, if I needed to use the car (he didn’t drive so I was basically his taxi), not lending money to his friends/family when they needed it and often times he would fly into a rage if I didn’t call in sick to work in order to spend the day with him.

Ollie would twist my words in such a way that it made me believe that I was genuinely a bad person. I justified my staying with him to friends and family by claiming that I loved him and that I had been a terrible boyfriend and needed to make it up to him. Ollie would call me names, insult and belittle me about my clothes, my friends, call them names etc. He would destroy things that I owned that belonged to friends of mine that he had a dislike of (I came home one day from work to find that a chest of drawers a friend had donated to me was lying in about 30 different broken pieces in the back garden as Ollie had taken a hammer to it whilst I was at work). Ollie would constantly call me, text me and message me while I was at work and would refuse to acknowledge that I wasn’t able to use my phone in work. In my head I would make excuses for him, even when he would go through my text messages, log onto my laptop (which he later broke) and read my Facebook messages, Twitter DM logs etc. At one point he began threatening a friend of mine via my Facebook profile to stay away from me – all whilst I was completely oblivious to this.

I became miserable and in February of this year I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – a condition that affects the nervous system and can cause great amounts of pain and chronic fatigue. The condition is exacerbated by stressful situations but Ollie didn’t seem to care. My pains would get so bad that I would have to use a walking stick, something that I found embarrassing and emasculating, yet Ollie would claim that I was showing him up or even faking it. At times he would completely gaslight me and tell me that fibromyalgia didn’t exist or that I didn’t have my diagnosis. My favourite was when he claimed that I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia to make life difficult for him! Ollie also began taking incredibly potent sleeping tablets that he claimed were prescribed because he was terrified of me and what I might do, so he needed them to help him sleep beside me.

Ollie used the tablets as another way of controlling me. He would take them on week nights at around 6 or 7pm and as they were fast acting he was in bed about twenty minutes later. Ollie would do this regularly if I had suggested meeting up with a friend or doing something that wasn’t explicitly his idea or didn’t benefit him in some shape or form. And since I wasn’t allowed out of the house this meant I was effectively on my own in the house with nobody to talk to unless he had decided one night to stay awake past 8pm.

The tipping point came in May of this year when my father was taken into hospital with a superbug infection in his chest. After about eight weeks of intense treatment and therapy we were told that they could no longer do anything for him and that he would be gone in less than a week. Ollie chose this as the precise moment to tell me that if I didn’t cut off all contact with my friends and the family members he didn’t like then he and I were finished. To rewind a bit, Ollie had met my parents on a number of occasions and was a completely different person with them than with me. He was the golden boy, all smiles and sunshine and could do no wrong so that whenever he and I had an argument there were times when he would call my mother on the telephone and tell her that I had threatened him or harmed him when indeed the reverse was true. This created a situation in which my own parents didn’t believe me at first when I told them the truth which in turn made me doubt myself and come running back to him every single time.

These mind games persisted over a course of about nine months – from September to May. I didn’t realise what was happening and I kept pushing myself deeper and deeper into the lies I had told to convince myself that I loved him, that he loved me and that this sociopathic behaviour was normal.

When Ollie gave me the ultimatum of choosing either him or my friends and family the decision was easy in my mind. With my father dying in hospital I knew exactly where I needed to be and in a moment of clarity I packed a bag, walked out of the house and left, never to return. What followed was a barrage of abuse from Ollie and his family over the next few days, all of whom were acutely aware that my father was on the verge of death but none of whom seemed to care. I was threatened with violence as were my friends, I was told that my belongings in Ollie’s house would be destroyed or sold, that I was going to be arrested for beating him etc – to put things in context it’s safe to say that Ollie isn’t that bright overall as this was all relayed to me via text messages which I screenshot and saved for my own protection.

I eventually got my belongings as he harassed my mother (who’s husband was dying) to come to the house and collect them along with my brother and aunt. I wasn’t allowed near the property and I was only too happy to oblige. The threats and the taunting became such that I threatened to call the police myself if I heard from any of them again. My father died peacefully in his sleep a few days later but I will never forgive Ollie for trying to take even those precious moments away from me. On the day my father died I had a combined total of fourteen missed calls and about twenty to thirty venomous text messages from Ollie. Despite my utter dread that he would do so, he didn’t come to my father’s funeral and didn’t contact me again yet I remained terrified of him until recently.

I was convinced that I couldn’t tell people about what had happened as I couldn’t quite believe it myself. It took the longest time for me to realise that I had been the victim of domestic abuse – psychological, financial, mental and emotional and that it had taken such a toll on me that I had actually become physically ill as a result. I was embarrassed to tell friends about what had happened and found out through the grapevine that Ollie had taken to social media to post update after update about how abusive I had been, how I had broken his heart etc – this was damage control on his part as he knew that it was only a matter of time before people heard the truth.

I still don’t know where I found the strength from to finally pack that bag and leave and I know I should have done it a year ago in that September. I guess I decided that the consequences of leaving him (and I knew he would make it next to impossible for it to be an amicable breakup) were more manageable than the consequences of staying with him. Not once have I ever regretted leaving him and any time I got a tinge of sadness or if I missed him just a little bit all I have to do is remind me of how little he made me think of myself. Ollie made me believe that I didn’t deserve to be happy or have my own personal freedom and independence respected. I realise whilst writing this that the voice in my head is a lot like Ollie’s voice and that makes it easier for me to ignore.

Nobody will ever tell me again that I can’t be happy whilst telling me that they love me. That is not the heart of a confident and loving relationship – that is the core of abuse. I walked away from coercive control but it could have been so much worse.

*The name of my ex has been changed for privacy purposes

World Mental Health Day

Sanctioned for missing the bus.
Unable to afford the train to the GP
Sleeping in doorways to avoid the cold
Stealing napkins to wipe the blood
Because you can’t afford luxury items.

Raped but you’re a criminal if you use the pills you were given by a friend.
Forced to full term because they don’t want you to control your body.
Counting the days in the young offenders centre.
Scraping pennies to organise a phone call home.

Waiting in the queue for the foodbank.
Deciding between freezing or eating.
Not letting your kids watch the news
because they ask what ‘deport them’ means.
Being followed around the supermarket
because you’re young and black.

Not holding your partner’s hand in public.
Wondering if you’ll make it home tonight.
Being put on a waiting list for urgent care.
Fighting for your child to speak to someone who can help them.
Choosing between facing the stairs or missing the appointment.

But it’s okay.
They tweeted #WorldMentalHealthDay

Pride Is A Fire That Burns In Us Tonight

image

I could not be prouder of Belfast tonight. We stand shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand with the victims of the terrorist attack in #Orlando. We raise our voices and our fists in defiance of the brutality and murder visited upon us by madmen and bigots whether it be Orlando or elsewhere.

We say love is love and love is beautiful. Love is beautiful and love is kind. Those who try to smash that won’t even make a dent. We laugh at those who try to divide us as with each strike we pull closer together. We have each others backs and all you do is unite us in a way that you fear. We laugh at your fear.

You try to silence us but with one voice we roar it will deafen you. Your time is up. Our time is now and forever. You cannot vanish us. You cannot stop us. You cannot win against power of diversity, equality and diversity. Thank you to those of you who stand with us daily.

Pride is a fire that burns in us tonight. You cannot extinguish the flames with the darkness that you create. A rainbow of sparks and flames that consumes us and reaches all of us from Orlando to Toronto and to Berlin, Sydney, Belfast, Johannesburg and Moscow. It burns brighter and fiercer than the hatred in your hearts. We will overcome.