I have a confession to make - I don't own a television. My pop-culture intake comes from free video content on Hulu and Facebook status updates. (I gave up television when it became impossible to watch it for free with rabbit ears.)
Every Tuesday, without fail, my Facebook news feed is consumed by status updates by Gleekers, fans of the hit television show Glee, dishing out their views on the latest plot summaries and opinions on their song and dance performances in real time.
I too am a fan of Glee. To avoid these spoilers, I have to force myself to logout of Facebook. This is nearly impossible to do since it is a tool I use to everyday, so I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a spoiler-free season of Glee. At least until I sign on the dotted line for over-priced digital cable.
For many, Glee serves as an opportunity to get lost in a fantasy world and play the role of Rachel or Finn, prancing around the school singing pop melodies to a well-choreographed routine. Others relive high school with the perfectly contrived witty comebacks of Kurt Hummel and Sue Sylvester.
For me, the show is all of these things and more. In a greater sense, it appeals to me, and my demographic, because it openly displays LGBT acceptance, and serves as a tool to educate without making it the main dramatic focus of the show.
Why Glee is So Important to Educating on LGBT Equality
Historically, depictions of gays in the media have either made LGBT ridiculous, such as our modern day Will and Grace, or tragic and heartrending, such as Philadelphia, Angels in America, Brokeback Mountain, or Boys Don't Cry. This is a stark contrast to Glee's coming-out episode, in which Kurt was lovingly accepted by the father- and then we moved on to other episodes. He is an important role in the show, but no different, more dramatic, or more important than any other character; in a sense, equal.
It's rare to find a show with multiple out gay actors. Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, and Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer, both bring a positive message about the importance of being true to oneself. Both actors have been open about their sexuality, which is what the equality movement needs.
It is refreshing to see more people of star status coming out. These people, while they have a lot to lose by coming out, also can make the most difference by doing so. They help to normalize being LGBT, and shift the opinions of the opposition. Stars like Ricky Martin, who recently came out via his blog after years of speculation from the media, decided he couldn't lead a double-life in front of his kids. Another example is Anna Paquin who came out as bisexual as part of the Give A Damn campaign to promote LGBT equality. Of course, no one can forget one of the first, and most prominent example of our time, a woman who so many lesbian women look to for an role model of strength and style, Ellen DeGeneres. While it took a few years for the buzz to die down after she came out, with high-profile coverage such as the cover-story in Time magazine, "Yep, I'm Gay," in 1997, Ellen's talk show is now one the most highly rated day-time talk shows, with millions of viewers tuning in and listening to anecdotes about her wife, Portia De Rossi. Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer are continuing this trend, and expanding on it.
How Glee Can Make a Difference
Every week, millions on both sides of the 'equality for all' divide tune-in to Glee. I don't have proof, but I'm sure a number of the students, parents, and staff from Constance McMillen's high school watch Glee every week. I would even place bets that some are envious of Chris Colfer, who is just fresh out of high school at 19 and professionally successful, even though he's openly gay.
Glee is in an excellent position to continue to make a difference in the LGBT equality movement. With its powerful reach and relatable characters, many people who have never met a gay person can now find a connection with Glee.
With all this said, I encourage all of my fellow Gleekers to continue to post Faceboook status updates about their love for Glee and to have dialogue with their peers about the importance of LGBT acceptance.
Check out this adorable video of Chris Colfer that an avid fan of Glee put together. Adam Lambert covers the song.