After Elton: The Top 7 Times “Glee” Really Out-Gayed Itself
Despite all the bitching and moaning we — me and you and everyone who has even a Seussical understanding about how stories work — do about Glee, it is the most paradigm-shifting show on TV when it comes to its portrayal of the LGBT community. There is simply no way to measure the resounding positive effect Glee has had on dialogue about gay and lesbian people. For all the ways it flip-flops, Glee remains fully, unabashedly, substantively queer. And that’s something to celebrate. So this week I’m counting out the seven times* Glee really out-gayed itself.
(*I’m not including Brittany/Santana or Kurt/Blaine relationship milestones because I’ve already counted down Brittana’s best moments, and the last two seasons of Glee have been one long Klaine countdown [in the best possible way].)
Kurt and Santana come out to their families.
Kurt’s coming out was one of the most moving moments I’ve ever seen on TV, especially because his dad — who ended up being one of the greatest TV parents ever — spent most of the episode trying to squash the “gay” stuff out of him. It was tender and lovely and ultimately so triumphant. Santana’s coming out to her abuela was just as beautifully done, and her grandmother’s reaction, while heart-wrenching, was so very real to so many people. In fact, I think a lot of TV viewers need to see that kind of ugliness and intolerance and ignorance reflected at them, so they can examine their own attitudes within the context of a story, where it’s safe and they can change and the world can get better.
Brittany doesn’t come out to anyone.
While I think coming out stories are important — because most LGBT people will need to go through a coming out process at some point in their lives — there are some people for whom sexuality is a non-issue. Brittany never questioned her affection for Santana. Never, ever, ever. Brittany is attracted to a person, not a gender, and because her attraction to Santana felt as natural to her as breathing, she never wrestled with her feelings. Brittany’s story is a true one too, one that’s becoming even more common, and it hints at a future where love is love is love is love, and everyone is as at ease about it as a flag-waving unicorn.
Kurt opens his mouth and a little purse falls out.
Despite the fact that I am a gay lady who spends half her life writing for the largest, most popular lesbian website on the internet, it drives me bonkers when I hang out with gay people whose personality and identity and every bit of speech is just “gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.” So when Mercedes ends up at Breadstix with Blaine and Kurt and hears their conversation like this, it makes me double over with laughter every time.
Glee hammers home the “Born This Way” message.
Sure, Glee has given us a Lady Gaga-themed episode and the full-on “Born This Way” video, but my favorite born this way moment was at the roller rink/karaoke cabaret where Kristin Chenoweth‘s April Rhodes took to the stage for a couples’ skate and shouted to the dudes, “Grab a gal. Or grab another fella if that’s the way the good Lord made you!”
Blaine kisses Rachel.
Most gay TV viewers are smart enough to tell the difference between a queer character who starts to question whether or not he or she might be straight or bisexual because sexuality for a lot of people really is a moving target, and a queer character who starts to question whether or not he or she might be straight or bisexual because the writers want to capitalize on opposite-sex appeal. When Glee had Blaine kiss Rachel, it was clearly a case of that second thing. When they cast Darren Criss, they had no idea he’d start getting gay men and straight men and gay women and straight women pregnant just by looking at the camera. But what’s so spectacularly gay about this storyline in retrospect is this: If a raging homo like Blaine was going to try on being “straight” for even a second, of course he would do it with the biggest flame dame in the midwest. The Rachel Berrys of this world have kissed more gay men than there are stars in the sky. Accidentally accurate maybe, but oh, so very true.
Kurt and Rachel “Get Happy” with Babs and Judy.
When Kurt and Rachel donned the exact same outfits as Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland and sang the exact same song as Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland while being this generation’s gay icons like Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland, my TV burst into rainbow-colored flames. (If you’ve never watched the original performance, do yourself the biggest favor.)
Karofsky learns that It Gets Better.
The self-hating, closeted bully trope is a trope because it’s true — and all too common. I kept thinking Glee was going to forget about Karofsky like it forgets about everything else, but by some miracle they managed to weave him into the most glorious, wretched, brilliant, perfect storyline in the history of the show. He was a bully. He was a gay bully. He was a gay bully who was in love with Kurt. He was a gay bully who began to accept himself. He was a gay boy, standing in front of another gay boy, asking for his love. He was a gay boy who got bullied. He was a gay boy who tried to kill himself in his very best suit. He was a gay boy who saw the future with another gay boy and a beautiful son. He was a gay boy who lived.