As reports flooded in from Orlando on Sunday morning my heart sank. 49 dead. 53 injured. A gay nightclub gunned down in cold blood in an act of terrorism. Tears welled in my eyes as I thought: “Those poor people. It could so easily have been here.”
In the wake of the hatred and horror is a message of hope: #LoveisLove. Around the world there has been an incredible outpouring of love for those affected by the atrocities in Orlando, millions of messages of support and public debates on how such a homophobic attack could take place.
Two years ago, Stripe worked on the Speak Up Against Hate Crime campaign. For months afterwards I was haunted by the stories we’d heard and the pain people experience at the hands of others simply for being themselves. Fortunately, Police crime statistics showed that homophobic crimes have become the territory of a very small group of marginalised extremists. Such hate crime is no longer a common occurrence.
In 2014, we relaunched the Scottish Government’s One Scotland brand as a national equality campaign. At that time, YouGov research showed three-quarters of Scots thought Scotland had made great progress towards equality in the last decade. I believe those figures would be even higher if polled today with the Western cultural shift that’s seen mainstream homophobia crumble away.
One of my best friends is LGBT equality campaigner John Naples-Campbell. When equal marriage was introduced, he turned to me and said: “we’ve fought our cause for so long that I never thought this day would come. I’m so proud of our country.” It was one of the most poignant moments in our friendship.
Tonight, some of the Stripe team is attending a candlelight vigil to celebrate the lives and mark the deaths of those killed in Orlando. We will stand proud together because #LoveisLove.