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Culture

Bo Burnham's groundbreaking Netflix special "Inside" exposes the flaws in millennial culture

Bo Burnham's groundbreaking Netflix special "Inside" exposes the flaws in millennial culture

Bo Burnham's "Inside" is a painfully accurate reflection of what it feels like to be not young, not old and not well.

I say painful because I turned 30 during the pandemic, and watching Burnham "celebrate" the minute he turned 30 during the pandemic with a meager "Yay" and a song about no longer being the youngest person in the room—it hit hard. Even the bits that didn't resonate with me still provoked a feeling of millennial familiarity, and nailed how easy it is to see the problems with ourselves, yet how complex it is to fix them.




Welcome to the Internet - Bo Burnham (from "Inside" -- ALBUM OUT NOW)www.youtube.com


"Inside" takes place over the course of a year. Burnham films and directs the special in his guesthouse and strings together pieces of the pandemic through songs, monologues, parodies of popular YouTube conventions and the occasional clip of equipment falling to the ground. Subjects range from systemic oppression, to FaceTiming your mom, also known as the average day in the COVID-19 age. One key difference is though my feelings and fears matched Burnham's to a T, his were voiced from an auxiliary home, surrounded by thousands of dollars of equipment, earning him a Netflix payday.

Despite the obvious income disparity, many other sentiments in Burnham's latest special hold up a vanity mirror to what millennials have been feeling all too well. At the end of the aforementioned "30," Burnham sings "It's 2020, and I'm t30, I'll do another 10/2030, I'll be 40 and kill myself then." This is immediately followed by a new, transition-less scene where Burnham sits on a stool, looks in a mirror with a mic assuring us he doesn't actually want to kill himself and a satirical half-hearted plea for others not to kill themselves either. The segment ends with Burnham saying "but if I could kill myself for a year, I'd do it today."

I'd never heard my feeling about an entire year summed up so perfectly in one sentence.

Millennials first met Burnham in 2006 on YouTube. In a sea of Fall Out Boy lyric videos and clips of your next door neighbor falling down stairs, Burnham was a nerdy white guy who played instruments in his bedroom and sang cleverly irreverent songs. In 2006, there was nothing cooler. High schoolers like me ate up his charm, his wordplay and his casual racism because that was state-of-the-art. In his 2008 video "New Math," 18-year-old Burnham sings "And if 10% of men are gay/20% of men are Chinese/What are the odds that a man chosen at random/Spends his free time and mealtime while on his knees?" This was my MySpace song during that year, and I never gave it a second thought. Now, my peers and I cringe and regret.

After recognition from older, more established stand-ups and creating a beautifully poignant coming-of-age film "Eighth Grade," it's clear that Burnham has grown. But, like many his age, the pandemic dictated a regression. While I chose to play New Found Glory and My Chemical Romance, Burnham returned to the genesis of his fame and realization of his creativity: alone in a room with a keyboard.


All Eyes On Me -- Bo Burnham (from "Inside" - album out now)www.youtube.com


While some of us deleted old tweets from when we were teens for fear they might be construed as mildly offensive if a hiring manager found them, Burnham has been forced to reckon with the idea that his version of cringey tweets are what made him famous. He can't simply delete his past, nor does he want to as evidenced by his 15-year-old YouTube videos still being online. In the song "Problematic," Burnham works himself into a sweat that drips from his pandemic-grown beard. He sings that growing up in white suburbs was what led him to say offensive things, but then flips, saying he shouldn't blame his behavior on his upbringing—perhaps a dance some of us have done over these past few years.

"Problematic" is still very much a Burnham song, complete with the funny asides that made us like him in the first place, like when he slips in "When I was seventeen, on Halloween/I dressed up as Aladdin/I did not darken my skin, but still, it feels weird in hindsight." The reason why we can forgive Burnham for being "problematic" is because it's a level of controversy we can imagine ourselves in. It made me wonder if there had been some cancellation buzz around Burnham if we'd be so quick to forgive. Or, if seeing Burnham forgive himself, we simply used it as an excuse to forgive ourselves, too.

"Inside" is saturated with self-awareness, while questioning the value of that quality. The special stretches from concert to internet variety show. One segment shows Burnham singing a song about unpaid interns, then zooms out to introduce Burnham once again, only sitting in front of the computer watching himself and about to do a live commentary on the video. This keeps zooming out in a Russian Doll level of commentary, during which he refers to a portion of himself in the video saying "Here, I'm so worried critics will levy against me, that I levy it against myself. If I'm self-aware about being a douchebag, it somehow makes me less of a douchebag—but it doesn't. Self-awareness does not absolve anyone of anything."

If we take anything away from this special, it's that saying we did something wrong is hollow unless it's backed up with the action to do better.

That all being said, "Inside" isn't entirely revelatory. Songs like "White Woman's Instagram" that name and demonstrate the cliche images we've all come to label as "basic" has the same snark as the teenager who dropped the line "You're a first time vegan and it's nice to meat ya" in 2008.


White Woman's Instagram -- Bo Burnham (from "Inside" -- ALBUM OUT NOW)www.youtube.com



It's also just as dated. In "Sexting" we hear all the awkwardness about the subject we've heard since Tinder became a thing. For being so hard-hitting at times, there's no shortage of pandering, though the music is always remarkably great.

Even the special itself might seem dated. "Inside" came out at the end of May 2021, a time when many people in America are fully vaccinated and venturing outside. Watching it gives flashbacks to a sore time far too recent that is nowhere near nostalgic. But, as Burnham ventures out of the guesthouse at the end of 80 minutes of "content" (as he derisively refers to his own special) he suddenly finds himself in the spotlight. A crowd starts uproariously laughing at him.

During 2020, I spent all this time self-reflecting, spiraling, and promising to do better, but once I go out and see how hard it is to perform in real life, will I just revert back? Will I just think back on this time as something I'm lucky to have escaped? As Burnham sings in "Problematic": Times are changing and I'm getting old / Are you gonna hold me accountable?" Burnham makes an art piece out of the white millennial pastime of apologizing and agonizing, and while that's the first step, it remains to be seen if this type of art creates change, or simply admits it needs to happen.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Family

I told a kid a riddle my dad told me when I was 7. His answer proves how far we've come.

This classic riddle takes on new meaning as our world changes for the better.




When I was 7, my dad told me a riddle.

"A man and his son are driving in their car when they are hit by a tractor-trailer.

Photo via iStock.

(We were driving at the time, so of course this was the riddle he decided to tell.)

The father dies instantly.

The son is badly injured. Paramedics rush him to the hospital.

Photo via iStock.

As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, I answered:


"The doctor is his mom!"

Photo via iStock.

My dad first heard the riddle when he was a child in the '60s.

Back then, most women didn't work outside of the home.

Few of those who did had college degrees, much less professional degrees.

Female doctors were few and far between.

Back then, it was a hard riddle. A very hard riddle.

By 1993, when I first heard it, the notion that women could be highly skilled, highly trained professionals wasn't so absurd.

To me, it was normal.

I knew women who were lawyers. Bankers. Politicians. My own doctor was a woman.

To be sure, women still faced challenges and discrimination in the workplace. And even 20 years later, they still do.

But at its core, the riddle is about how a family can work. And that had changed. Long-overdue progress had rendered the big, sexist assumption that underpinned the whole thing moot.

A very hard riddle was suddenly not a riddle at all.

I never forgot it.

Now, I'm 30 — almost as old as my dad was he first told me that riddle.

My dad at 30 (left) and me at 30. Photos by Eric March/Upworthy and Mary March, used with permission.

I don't have kids, but I mentor a child through a volunteer program.

Once a week, we get together and hang out for an hour. We play ping pong, do science experiments, and write songs. Neither of us like to go outside.

It's a good match.

One day, we decided to try to stump each other with riddles.

He rattled off about five or six.

I could only remember one: The one about the man, his son, and the surgeon.

Photo via iStock.

I thought it would be silly to tell it.

I was sure that, if it was easy in 1993, it would be even easier in 2014. Kind of ridiculous, even.

But a part of me was curious.

It had been 21 years — almost as long as it had been between when my dad first heard the riddle and when he shared it with me.

Maybe it wouldn't be so easy.

Maybe I was missing something obvious, making my own flawed assumptions about how a family could work.

Maybe the world had changed in ways that would be second nature to a 13-year-old but not to me.

So I began:

"A man and his son are driving in their car, when they are hit by a tractor-trailer. The father dies instantly. The son is badly injured and is rushed to the hospital by paramedics. As he is being wheeled into the operating room, the surgeon takes one look at the boy and says:

'I can't operate on him. He's my son.'

How is that possible?!"

Without missing a beat, he answered: "it's his other dad"

Photo via iStock.

Times change. Progress isn't perfect. But no matter what shape a family takes, at the end of the day, #LoveWins.


This article was written by Eric March and originally appeared on 06.21.16

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Ms. Natalie Ringold's lesson in kindness has gone viral.

No matter our age, we all want kindness and respect from our peers. No one enjoys being judged or criticized, and negative comments about our appearance sting even if we don't want them to.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always stop people from pointing out things they think we should change about ourselves. Issues like hair shaming and body shaming are all too common, despite greater awareness of the hurt they cause.

Elementary school teacher Natalie Ringold shared a lesson about this phenomenon, and though it's geared toward kids, it's one a lot of grown-ups could take to heart as well.


Holding a tube of toothpaste, Ms. Ringold explained when it's appropriate to say something about someone's appearance and when it's not.

"If somebody can't change something about themselves in 30 seconds or less," she said, "then you shouldn't be mentioning it to them."

She gave examples of things that do take 30 seconds or less, such as if someone's shoe is untied or they have something stuck to their shirt or their fly is unzipped. For those things, it's okay to tell the person (politely, and in private if it's something that might embarrass them to point out in front of other people) so they can fix it.

But if it's something that would take more than 30 seconds to change or isn't even possible to change, like their hairsytle or hair color or body shape, then that's not something you should comment on.

"Your words have power," Ms. Ringold said. Squeezing toothpaste out of the tube, she explained that when you say something about someone that they can't change in 30 seconds or less, it can be hurtful, and just like toothpaste once it's out of the tube, you can't fully take it back once it's out there.

"You try to apologize, you try to take the words back…and you try to undo what you said, undo what you did. But it's something they couldn't change about themselves, and so it get very messy. You can't totally take those words back. You can't totally fix it."

"Your words have power and your words matter," she said. "If you walk out of this room spreading kindness to the people around you, spreading love to the people around you, that is what truly makes a difference."

Ms. Ringold shared that she does this lesson with her students on the last day of school because she wants them to remember this concept for the rest of their lives. People in the comments were so appreciative of the message for all ages.

"I think many adults need to hear this message!"

"Exactly my thoughts. A lot of adults need to hear this too."

"BLESS YOU!!! As a person who was relentlessly racially harassed as a child, I wish this was taught."

"If they are old enough to be mean on purpose they are old enough to be kind on purpose."

"This should be required viewing for anyone who wants to join social media."

"This made me cry. Can I start my college courses with this?"

"I saw you post this and had this conversation with my 4th graders!! It helped so much!!"

Here's to teachers teaching lessons beyond academics, helping kids learn that their humanity matters just as much as their grades.

Joy

Strangers rally to cry for help for 22-year-old mother given just four months to live

In 24 hours, people flooded the family with donations to hopefully buy Rachael Burns some time with her 1-year-old daughter, Raeya.

Rachael Burns was given a dire prognosis as her daughter turned one.




Being given just a few months to live is a daunting prognosis for anyone, but when you're a 22-year-old mother with a 1-year-old daughter, it's particularly tragic. Your adult life has just begun. You are the world to your young child. Your partner is suddenly looking at losing you and becoming a single parent, all in one fell swoop.

Rachael Burns of Belfast, Northern Ireland, is facing that exact reality. Eight months ago, she began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells and irritation in her eyes, according to Belfast Live. At first, doctors chalked it up to dehydrated eyes and she considered them migraines, but after an emergency trip to the hospital in early June 2024, Burns was diagnosed with diffuse midline glioma brain tumour—brain cancer with a rare, aggressive mutation that is spreading down her spine.


Because of its size and where it's located, doctors said there is no way to even attempt an operation on it. Consultants told her that anyone who came in with her symptoms and that diagnosis generally had 9 to 12 months to live.

"I’ve shown symptoms for the last eight," Burns told Belfast Live. “I was told to assume that that was the case and try to make the most of the next four months.

“I left that appointment with no real hope and I didn’t know how to tell my mum and the rest of the family, I didn’t want them to get upset. It felt like everything had just been taken away from me at that point."

Facing such a dire prediction, Burns began writing years' worth of birthday cards for her daughter, Raeya, who just had her first birthday. The only option appeared to be six weeks of radiotherapy, which would do little to help.

But research into experimental therapies unveiled a ray of hope to buy more time with her family.

"We've identified a potentially life-extending treatment in Germany, under the name of ONC201," the family shared on GoFundMe, "but it comes at a significant cost. Should Rachael qualify, we need funds to pay for travel costs, accommodation and the drugs themselves.

"We refuse to let financial worries hinder Rachael's fight for her life or deprive her and her daughter of precious time together. Our goal is to ensure their comfort should the worst come to pass. No one should go from celebrating their child's first birthday to facing a terminal illness so swiftly."

Not only did the local community of West Belfast turn out for this young family but people around the world did as well. In less than 24 hours, they'd raised £30,000 (approximately $38,000 U.S.).

mom and dad holding baby in front of a birthday cake

Donate to Support a young mother battling terminal cancer, organized by Rachael Burns.

www.gofundme.com

“I’m just totally overwhelmed by the response that we have got so far,” Rachael said. “Belfast is such a small place but you never think that people from all over would show as much kindness as they have done for me and my family. It is a scary time to be going through all of this but this has given me more hope that I can spend some more time with my family.”

Burns told The Irish News that the treatment she's seeking in Germany has extended the life of people with her diagnosis by as much as 22 months. That may not sound like much time, but in the life of a small child, it's hugely significant.

“My Raeya will always know just how much her mummy fought with everything in her power for even a quick glimpse of watching her grow into the beautiful, strong and kind girl I know she will be in this world," Burns said. “Situations are what you make of them and I refuse to just be another statistic.”

While the future is uncertain for the Burns family, the money that's been raised gives her the best chance for a miracle. Any funds that don't go to Rachael's treatment will go into a bank account for young Raeya "to support her in life for if the time comes when she loses her mother."

Find the GoFundMe here.

Identity

A message to my fellow Christians: I hope you're having a super uncomfortable Pride month

I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

Nobody should live in fear.

This post was originally published on Substack. You can find it here.

I was a small town, conservative girl when my husband and I relocated to Orlando, Florida. I spent my time going from work to the barn, work to the barn, crying as I brushed my horse's mane.

"I'll never make friends in this town,” I sobbed over the phone with my mom one night.

The next day at work, I met Matt.

He had a brilliant smile and a southern drawl and he sounded like home. He loved horses, too, having spent years doing rodeo. Our friendship was instant and easy.

He visited the barn and taught me how to lasso. I picked up his favorite latte on the way to work. And on our lunch breaks, he would gush all about the love of his life, Jesse. I assumed Jesse was a girl, but that assumption turned out to be wrong. When we all met for lunch one day, I couldn't conceal my shock.

"Oh my GOSH, Matt! You're gay?"


"Um, DUH." He laughed. “Did the cowboy hat throw you off?”

I then remembered he had recently pointed out a bar a few blocks from my house. He mentioned that it was a fun place to go, and I replied that one day we should….but I hadn’t noticed the rainbow details.

"MK, your gay-dar isn't malfunctioning. It's completely nonexistent."

Matt and Jesse told me funny stories about drag contests and bouncers who wore shorty shorts. They insisted I would love Thursday night karaokes, but I assured them it wasn't my scene.

I blushed and giggled a little at the idea. It sounded fun, if not a bit scandalous.

Two people smiling together wearing Pride gear

Pride is not just some party.

Mary Katherine Backstrom

A week or so after that hilarious lunch date, I was driving home from a friend’s house, when I witnessed a young lady get struck by a car. I swerved to the side of the road and jumped out of my vehicle, screaming.

In an instant, people poured out of the bar to assist in the emergency. I barely registered that they were dressed flamboyantly. Their make up didn't strike me as strange. In that moment, we were all scared human beings. Their hearts were racing just like mine.

A drag queen cradled the woman’s head in his hands as I called the police.

“Don’t move, baby girl,” he comforted the woman. “Don’t mess up these pretty braids.”

It was a fraction of a moment that felt like forever. I can still hear her crying for Momma. Thankfully, the club was a block from the hospital. The ambulance arrived in an instant.

When the lights and sirens finally faded, my adrenaline couldn’t handle silence. It was like every one of us had been shaken like soft drinks, and in that moment, we had all cracked open. There were hugs and prayers exchanged between strangers. I remember someone humming a hymn.

Then slowly, one by one, the crowd dispersed. We had to go back to our lives. But not before exchanging a couple of phone numbers, promising to disperse any updates.

I called my friends, Matt and Jesse. I knew the gay community was a close one and I wondered if they had heard any news.

Matt asked around, but didn’t hear much.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “We will know more tomorrow.”

I decided to stay up until then.

The next morning, we all went to breakfast with the drag queens who had started a text thread for updates. We bonded over hash browns and our collective trauma—and after coffee, just some regular life stories.

The woman, we learned, was in critical condition. Two broken legs and a fractured spine. James, who had cradled her head so gently, had probably saved her life. Turns out, he had done so with great intention because not only was he a drag queen, but once a month he returned to his rural hometown to serve as a medic for the volunteer fire department.

A hero. An absolute gem of a human.

Two years later, those same gentle heroes were working their jobs at Pulse when a hate-crazed terrorist made his way through the doors with a semi-automatic rifle. When he first started shooting, some patrons kept dancing.

They thought it was part of the music.

That detail never fails wreck my heart.

They kept dancing.

They just wanted to dance.

I’ll never forget the pit in my stomach as I stared at my phone through the night. Praying each name in that years-long text thread was sleeping at home in their beds. After four sleepless nights, we received confirmation—two of the group had been working. Both had escaped and survived the massacre.

But it wasn’t a happy ending.

An act of hate forever changed their lives, and they were deeply, irreversibly altered. One turned to drugs and the other disappeared. I pray he is still alive, somewhere.

But, yes. They survived. Thank God, I should say.

In an act of terror that killed 49 and hurt scores more, they were the lucky ones.

But when I think of that word...”lucky”.

God, it honestly pisses me off.

That’s how low the bar is, y’all. That’s where we are as a society.

Our gay friends are sometimes just lucky to survive.

How can this be who we are?

If you talk to the LGBTQ community, and I mean really get to know them, you will hear a whole lot of heart breaking versions of what they consider to be “lucky.”

Their parents didn’t disown them. They are lucky.

They haven’t been physically assaulted. Lucky.

They survived a terrorist attack.

Lucky.

I am so deeply over this shit.

Nobody, nobody should live in fear. Nobody should feel lucky that they’ve avoided physical abuse, or emotional abuse, or my Lord, mass murder.

Six short years after the Pulse shooting, what is it going to take?

Look how broken America is. Look what this hate has cost us.

And look at the religious mouthpieces for hate who are becoming more and more emboldened.

Just last week, I posted a meme celebrating the beginning of Pride. It said:

Wishing all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month!

I post it every year and I usually laugh my butt off. It’s too easy to predict all the comments. It’s the same old crap, different mouths, every year.

“Well, that’s not very Christlike.”

“I don't hate anyone! I hate the sin, but I don’t hate the sinner.”

“Ohhhhhh, well who is intolerant now?”

This year, I am truly done laughing. I used to abide this shit, but to be honest, I really can’t do it, anymore. I’ve read and I’ve lived through enough horrible history to understand this terrible truth: Polite hate is the most dangerous kind of hate. It loads the gun, then just backs away quietly.

Christians, please, open your eyes. It’s two thousand and freaking twenty four. I know that you know exactly how this works. You don’t get a pass for good manners.

I won’t let you hide behind pat platitudes when your beliefs give motive to terrorists.

You don’t get to say “it’s the sin that I hate” when that mantra makes bullets for terrorists.

And yah, I guess you could call me intolerant. Smack that sticker on my forehead, I don’t care. For years, I have tolerated far too much from the bigoted backrow Baptists. But the paradox of tolerance states that if a society's practice of tolerance is inclusive of the intolerant…in the end, intolerance will win the day.

And that’s exactly how people die dancing.

So yah, not only do I wish the homophobes reading an incredibly uncomfortable month—I hope this discomfort convicts your soul, and makes you question EVERYTHING. I hope the itch in your spirit spreads to places you can’t bend over to scratch.

I hope enough people walk away from your screeching that you are left alone with your hate. And I hope that hate makes you sick to your stomach when you realize the harm it has caused.

Being gay is not a sin. And Pride is not some party.

It’s a courageous protest that weak minded fearful bigots just can’t comprehend.

It’s authenticity in the face of oppression. Vulnerability in the face of violence.

Pride is the spirit of millions of people who have chosen to dance in the crosshairs.

Growing up in the church, I was frequently told that there are evil forces at work. That these forces were fighting against God’s will, and causing harm to His people. Now, I can see that the threat was true, but it was coming from inside the house.

There are evil, hateful forces at work right now…against the LGBTQ community. Some of those forces look like Saints when they’re hiding behind stained glass.

It’s gonna take a force, equal and opposite in power and passion, to turn the church around. So, if you’re a Christian who has been fence-sitting this issue, it’s time to get off the damn fence.

This June, I beg you to look past the prejudice and the preaching you’ve had crammed down your throat your whole life. Look past your anger, and your pastor’s fear. Look at these beautiful humans. Trying with all their hearts to claim the dignity and love and safety that they, as humans, deserve.

This?

THIS is what you are scared of?

These are the forces of evil?

If that’s what you think then, my friend, you’ve been brainwashed.

I get it. I was brainwashed, too.

But all along, I deep down in my heart, I knew there was something amiss. I couldn’t quite rationalize what I knew of God’s love with the hate I saw coming from church.

For twenty years, I was too afraid to challenge my faith. I thought that it might fall apart.

But that is EXACTLY why I wish all the homophobes a SUPER uncomfortable month. Because I know from painful, hard-earned experience what discomfort can do to change minds.

So, instead of doubling down on your hateful theology…I ask you, non-affirming Christians, in the name of our faith. In the name of God’s love.

Will you please put your weapons down?

Will you consider the lesson that I learned on the street in front of Pulse so many years ago?

Will you feel the heartbeats of your fellow humans, and for once SEE YOURSELF IN THEM?

I beg you to try.

I beg you to grow.

It’s already been far too late.

You can follow Mary Katherine Backstrom on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

Pop Culture

Alan Tudyk creates Reddit account just to connect with fan who missed out on talking to him

The 'Resident Alien' star sent the sweetest message to a fan who lamented not telling him how important the show was to her.

This is how you treat a fan.

Even if you don’t typically get star struck, odds are there’s one celebrity that would send you into a nervous fit should you ever come face-to-face. Especially if that celebrity was part of a project that meant a great deal to you.

Like, how do you tell them that a movie or TV show they starred in changed your entire outlook on life in the 30 seconds that you’re probably allowed to interact with them? You can’t. So instead you say something lame alá “Gee, I’m your biggest fan,” as they politely sign some memorabilia, and then your time is up. Opportunity for connection with someone who greatly impacted your life: gone.

This is what happened when a fan of the sci-fi comedy “Resident Alien” got a chance to meet the show’s star, Alan Tudyk, at a convention.


Unfortunately, nerves got the best of her, and she “blew” her chance to share how meaningful the show has been during a particularly dark period of her life. Filled with anguish and embarrassment, she created a throwaway Reddit account just to vent about the experience.

“I went to Fan Fest Boston and met Alan on Saturday,” her post began. “I wanted to tell him that ‘Resident Alien’ was the first show that made me laugh after my husband died this winter, that it helped me to feel human again, and I wanted to thank him for that.”

via GIPHY

However, the OP was very aware of how “exhausted” Tudyk appeared, and the long lines of people still waiting to see him. Plus she knew they couldn’t say their piece “without crying.”

So instead, she “stood there awkward and stupid,” and made a joke about “Firefly,” the show that launched Tudyk’s career.

The entire debacle left the OP regretting that she never got a chance to let Tudyk know “that his work really affected someone and helped them through a hard time.”

“I know he probably wouldn’t care and he would forget by the end of the day so I’m not sure why it’s bothering me so much, but I just really wanted to say thank you.” the post concluded.

Well, through the almighty power of the internet, Tudyk found out about this post. And he responded in such a thoughtful way.

resident alien, alan tudyk

A photo of Tudyk's response

preview.redd.it

Here’s what he wrote:

“My friend sent me this. Sorry you feel like you missed your opportunity. I have read your message. I love that you have such a beautiful connection with the show. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I’m glad you’re finding your laugh again and honored that I’m a part of that. Your story and similar stories I’ve heard are so touching. It makes me feel like my work, which I appreciate getting to do, has worth beyond the Hollywood hustle of it all and the BS business of show business.”

Tudyk even gave the OP another opportunity to meet, inviting her to come by the following day before he hopped on a plane so that he could also say “thank you in person.”

Though the OP wasn’t able to meet Tudyk that day (she explained in a follow-up post that it would be her kids’ first Father’s Day without dad, and they had to “come first”), she noted that she would return to the same convection next year, and tell it to him again—this time in person.

She also ended her heartwarming post with a very appropo “Resident Alien” quote, in which Tudyk’s non-human character Harry reflects:

“Everyone needs to belong to something bigger than themselves. Yes, there is strength in numbers, but maybe it's simpler. Maybe humans just feel better when they know they are not alone on this earth.”