Friday, April 9, 2010
What I love most about "Glee" is how it takes what the world perceives as disadvantages in people--like being overweight, female, Asian, Jewish, and gay, for example--and turns them into advantages, strengths, reasons to celebrate. I admit it, Kurt, the young gay fellow, made me cringe when I first saw him. He was the quintessential effeminate boy, with the high-pitched voice, outrageous wardrobe, effeminate mannerisms, prissy attitude--and he irritated the hell out of me. Why? Because I saw some of myself in him, just as I'd be wiling to bet most gay men see a part of themselves in him, too.
But in facing Kurt, I've had to face myself. At the same time I laughed as the tough football players waited for Kurt to remove his expensive, haute couture coat before they threw him into a garbage dumpster, I felt sorry for him, too. I wasn't tossed into dumpsters when I was in grade school, like yesterday's trash, but I was treated in similarly demeaning ways, and I saw in Kurt a young man with a lot of courage and the ability to laugh at himself, which I did not possess. True, "Glee" is just a TV show with great writers, and I have to keep that in mind. But it's given me a new way of looking at the adversity I experienced, and a new perspective on what it means to be gay.
Imagine if it were advantageous to be gay, if being gay was something to cherish about yourself, something to celebrate along with the world. Imagine if everyone looked up to gay people and recognized us for the sensitive, talented, and compassionate people that we are. Imagine if everyone in the world wanted to be gay, because being gay was infinitely better than being straight, in all the most important ways. I might be getting carried away here, but you get where I'm going with this.
"Glee" has helped me look at being gay differently, and, as a result, I look at myself differently. Sure, the real world isn't like the one portrayed on "Glee," but the possibility of it is what excites me. Looking beyond what I've always known my gay experience to be is what excites me. And I have Kurt, that lovable queer, to credit for ripping down the sides of the box, and for showing me that, sure, gay people are ridiculed and scorned, but we have value, we make a difference, and the world is a much better place because we're in it.
I read in a magazine recently that, in this season of "Glee," Kurt gets his man--no less than a football player, who also happens to be gay. That's what "Glee" does best--turns stereotypes upside down, inside out, and forces us to see a world that could be.
Join me on Tuesday evening to begin watching the new season of "Glee." I guarantee you won't regret spending the time with this wonderful group of talented and engaging underdogs. You'll likely see yourself in one or more of the characters.