By Victoria Espinoza

Today I woke up with a stronger determination than ever to be an ally. An ally to the LGBTQ community, to the Black Lives Matter community, to the Muslim community, the Hispanic community and every other community that woke up this morning feeling scared of the future.

I had gay friends and relatives reach out to me last night as the results were becoming clearer, wondering if they’ll still be able to get married, to adopt children, to feel equal. They need to know they still have support behind them.

As much as those fears made me want to cry and shut down, the feeling of making sure they knew I was on their side and ready to fight for them was stronger.

But then came the embarrassment.

It is unacceptable to me that it took Donald Trump becoming president to feel this strongly about being the loudest ally I can for these communities. It took this dark of a cloud for me to see the light and promise to support like I never have before.

Voting against him clearly was not enough. Crying out and insulting the people who did vote for him isn’t either.

America has been called the great experiment. My God, does that feel accurate today more than ever. We need to keep this experiment moving in the right direction with inclusiveness. This is our country; we do not stop calling ourselves American because we disagree with our new leader.

That’s when we lose.

Those, like me, who feel despair after last night’s results can still win. Not can — we must. It has never been more crucial to stand up for those who have felt oppressed during this election cycle. If we don’t lend our voice to those who feel voiceless, then we are truly going backwards in this country.

Every American has the right to choose their presidential candidate. Almost every point of view is understandable from a certain angle, once you put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Now put yourself in the shoes of the communities today who are terrified of a Trump administration. They are just as American as those who voted for him. They voted differently, but they accept the results and the new leader of this country.

And the rest of the country damn well better do the same for them, as an American.

With liberty and justice for all — not just pretty words, but a founding principle.

Victoria Espinoza is the editor of the Times of Huntington, Northport & East Northport and the Times of Smithtown.