Ryan Alexander-Tanner

What is there to say at this point? About guns, fear, homophobia, and Islamophobia? It feels hopeless, I feel helpless—and it didn't even happen to me, except in the way that it happened to everyone. The realization is sinking in that we live in a country, right now, where there's nothing stopping anyone from committing a mass shooting, except for whether or not they want to commit a mass shooting.

Freedom will always involve sacrifice, but the freedom to own semi-automatic guns, to purchase nearly every kind of gun indiscriminately, at the cost of a death toll that grows higher every single day seems like a bad deal. I mean, how high do we let that horrifying odometer spin before we realize that this isn't a partisan issue? It's an American issue, and our present policy of shrugging, sobbing, and lamenting online isn't enough. Of course, all I'm doing right now is lamenting how all we do is lament—so I'm a hypocrite, too. Nothing I can write here, or anywhere really, can do anything about gun policy.

Instead, let me throw my voice in with the chorus of people celebrating the group that was targeted by this particular mass shooting, the LGBTQ community.

My older sister is gay. She's also seven years older than me, which means when I was in my late teens, she had perfected getting hammered and throwing parties. House parties. The most fun fucking house parties I've ever attended, too. They were full of music, theme rooms, and free-flowing liquor and marijuana. They were the kind of parties that were just as fun when 80 people were dancing to a Prince song as they were when eight people were lying in the backyard as the sun came up.

It was also my first experience with gay people being gay together, and I don't mean making out with each other—though they were doing that, too. I mean they were being themselves, unb ridled and unafraid, and man, that was fucking beautiful.

I was jealous. I wasn't gay, but at that point in my life, I certainly wasn't being myself, either. I had so much less societal and familial judgment to overcome than these people, and yet I still wasn't doing it. I started then.

This may sound too dear or too convenient, but nobody taught me more about being myself than gay people. That's continued as I've gotten older and encountered more and more amazing, inspiring people from the LGBTQ community, especially in the world of comedy. I'm grateful now and will always be so.

Straight people tend to vacation in the gay world. We go to their clubs and co-opt their lingo. We fetishize them, even while keeping them at arm's length, and they let us. They don't fight us with anything but love. They let us be safe in their world, even as we do so little to keep them safe in our world. I have no idea how to end this column, except to say that I'm heartbroken, and I hope we can figure out a way to do better.