Glee makes me cry. Not because it's so great or moving, and not that it isn't. It's Kurt. Or, more to the point, the complexity and truthfulness of Kurt as a gay teen, the reaction around him, and the subtle ways the show teaches it's world how to react to him.
I realized tonight, not only did I have no role models like Kurt to watch when I was young, neither did the rest of the world. One of my favorite episodes was when Finn, the football quarterback, had to move in to Kurt's house. Kurt had engineered fixing their parents up so this would happen. The show didn't flinch from the idea that Kurt would get a crush on Finn. Finn reacted homophobically, and then, the show taught how he should react. I was a sobbing mess during that one.
Kurt is unapologetically gay, even more so perhaps than Adam Lambert. But unlike gay boys and men before him in the mainstream media, he isn't unthreatening or asexual. He's a real teenager with real teen feelings. Do you realize how huge this is?
The awesome subversiveness of Glee, is it looks like a clean cut suburban Disney show. It's drawn America in, and it's showing it how to be a better place. How would I have ended up if I'd had Glee to watch when I was a kid? That's why I cry. It's tears for what I didn't have, and tears of joy, knowing somewhere out there, there's a young man or woman who needs this show. And there's so many straight people who need to see accepting gay people modeled for them. It's not easy for Kurt. People need to know that.
I'm not a Modern Family fan. I am tired of stereotyped gay men who are buffoons. Maybe they get to be kind of loving, but for Christ's sake, I want to see grown up gay men who are as attractive and grounded as the lead guy on that show. Maybe I haven't watched it enough. Will and Grace did nothing for me. It perpetuated the stereotype that gay men are either asexual or sluts.
Kurt is just real. He transcends stereotype. There are gay kids like him. I know, I was one until it was literally ridiculed and beaten out of me by my classmates. I learned to hide the Kurt in me and act straight. The flaming gay boy I was is buried deep inside. He comes out once in a while, but not often enough. I mourn for that loss of who I was born to be.
Tonight's episode focused on Kurts dad going into a coma, and the spiritual questions and dilemmas those kind of events bring up. Finn see's Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich and prays to it. Kurt has no faith, but learns to accept others love and faith. It pushes that subversive envelope in a special way to face gay issues and spiritual issues in the same hour. When an elderly woman takes Kurt's hand in church, I can't help but think it's a lesson directed at modern American spiritual organizations: Gay people are hurting, and the Christian thing to do is to offer a helping hand. Even Sue get's to have a little journey about God, and gives one of her finest performances through that. Go Jane Lynch!
This week, there's been a lot of media attention to young gay men committing suicide. I've been shut down to it all week. I haven't let myself feel. Glee kind of opened the floodgates tonight. I still don't know how I survived, I guess a part of me should be thankful for denial. Mostly music is what got me through.
But I really wish I'd had Glee to watch back then.