On Sunday night, just a few hours after the horrific shooting in Orlando, Florida, Andy Cohen had to host Watch What Happens Live.
“I've never wanted to go on TV less than I did last night,” the openly gay host told ET’s Brad Bessey on the NYC set of his show on Monday. “But nobody's watching my show to hear about the news, they're watching my show to smile and so at the end of the day, that's kind of my vow to people who watch the show -- I'm gonna make you smile no matter what happened that's horrible in the day.”
The shooting at Pulse nightclub took the lives of 49 innocent people and has injured 53 more. What makes this particular tragedy so difficult for Cohen to swallow is the idea that a gay bar is a place of sanctuary for many members of the LGBT community.
“You go to a gay bar and for some people it's the only safe place that they have,” he said. “A gay bar is about a safe place and a place to feel free and a place where you can be a part of a community. So the idea that these people who were there to be just with people they love and be safe and have fun, were killed for being who they are, it just kills me.”
Cohen was asked to speak at a vigil for the victims in NYC, reading many of their names aloud for the large crowds that gathered in Manhattan.
“This has touched me probably more than anything just because I think I could have been there,” he said. “And when I look at the pictures of the victims, those are people that are not just my lesbian and gay brothers and sisters, I see their faces and I see people that I know and that I relate to.”
The terrible losses have motivated Cohen to take a stand against gun laws.
“It's a scary, scary reminder that there are really awful people in the world,” he said of the shooting. “For me, it's yet another wakeup call that nobody needs an assault rifle except the people who are actually protecting us. More than anything that's happened, it made me feel like I'm going to do what I can as a citizen to get rid of assault weapons.”
Across the world, celebrities, members of the LGBT community, and allies alike have come out to pay their respects to the fallen victims. CNN host Anderson Cooper read out the names of all 49 victims in Monday night’s broadcast, getting choked up while paying his respects in a 7-minute segment.
“I think it’s important that you hear their names,” he told viewers.