February 2, 2024

Who is Really Gay on Glee?

Glee did more to normalize homosexuality on TV than probably any other work of art, ever. Over the course of six seasons, tweens and teens sat in living rooms around the world, watching musical numbers, show choir competitions, and hormonal high-school drama stacked with more than its fair share of comings out, same-sex crushes, and gender nonconformity. The show created a new generation of LGBT youth who grew up watching a healthy, loving, and supportive relationship between Kurt Hummel and his dad Burt. It taught young people to be themselves, no matter how others responded.

The show also introduced Darren Criss’s character of Blaine, the openly gay lead singer of the Dalton Academy Warblers, who is romantically attracted to Kurt. Blaine’s youthful self-acceptance is a stark contrast to the “fag hag” stereotype often associated with media portrayals of gay men and women, and many gay viewers found him to be their first real love interest on the show.

But treating Glee as a model of post-homophobic society is problematic for several reasons. For one, the show has a tendency to break the rules of narrative logic.

Another problem is that the show’s depiction of LGBT relationships on TV still falls far short of what would be considered best practices for creating healthy, respectful, and inclusive social environments. Whether it’s the closeted gay bully Dave Karofsky or Kurt’s new masculine love interest, Blaine, Glee has created a host of characters who have triggered a backlash among some LGBTQ audiences.


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