Opinion: What ‘Glee’ Tells Us About New LGBT Allies
Editors Note: David M. Hall, Ph.D., is he author of the book “Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment.” He is also the author of “BullyShield,” an iPhone and Droid app. Hall teaches high school students as well as graduate courses on LGBT issues and bullying prevention. His website is www.davidmhall.com and he is on twitter @drdavidmhall.
By David M. Hall, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The Valentine’s Day episode of “Glee” introduced the God Squad’s Joe Hart, a student who is a committed Christian. His only tattoos are bible quotes, and each of his dreadlocks is named after a bible verse. Joe wants to make Christianity cool, so the God Squad, a Christian club, agrees to sing “vocal valentines” for any student who dedicates a song.
When the God Squad sings to Rachel, an irate Santana – who was already angry with her principal because of his double-standard regarding public displays of affection between gay couples – asks if they are Christian. When they say yes, the cheerleader tells them she wants to send a “vocal valentine” to her girlfriend: “And I don’t mean my friend who’s a girl. I mean my girlfriend girlfriend. How’s that sound?”
Joe Hart appears dumfounded. He later explains to the rest of the God Squad that he never met anyone who was gay.
Toward the end of the episode, Santana and Brittany, her girlfriend, are sitting together at a Valentine’s Day party. The God Squad and Joe approach them about Santana’s request. “After thinking and praying about it,” he tells them, “I knew there was only one answer: absolutely. Love is love, man. So here’s for Brittany from Santana.”
God Squad breaks into a mash-up of “Cherish,” the oldie, and Madonna’s version: “You don’t know how many times I wish that I had told you. You don’t know how many times I wish that I could hold you…. Cherish is the word I use to remind me of, your love.” Santana and Brittany start the song lovingly holding hands and end the song with a kiss on the dance floor to the applause of their peers.
In the following episode a gay teenager attempts suicide, and Joe invites Kurt, one of the show’s out and proud characters, to pray with the God Squad. Kurt, who questions God, joins them in prayer.
The storyline on “Glee” captures something larger that we are seeing with a new generation of allies (allies are people who support LGBT rights but aren’t LGBT themselves). When I wrote “Allies at Work” in 2009, every ally I interviewed also supported LGBT pride. Today, we are encountering a different type of ally: one who supports LGBT people because they believe it’s the Christian thing to do. So they are supportive of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people though they may be conflicted over how they feel about “gay pride.”