Everyone has guilty pleasures. Some are better than others. And some are more easily admitted than others. My maternal grandfather, for example, probably never shared his love for the ballet with the guys down at the smelter. Well mine is a lot less cultured than Grandpa’s. I watch Glee.
Just to be clear, I also listen to classical music and read Shakespeare for fun, but man do I love that TV show about singing high school geeks!
And here’s why: I like how it represents good role models for straight people. Let me explain.
I know it’s important for minorities to see characters from their communities positively portrayed on TV. Generations of African-American women point to Uhura on Star Trek as a role model, for example. And plenty of young gay kids can certainly relate to the character of Kurt on Glee.
But I think positive characters on TV go well beyond impacting just members of any specific minority group. Uhura didn’t just show little African-American girls what they could become; she showed everyone what little African-American girls could become.
Which is why I was so excited last month when Kurt finally was kissed. Sure the bully kissed him several episodes ago, but that was violence. The kiss from Blaine was romance.
And having that on TV is good for my kids. Not that my boys watch Glee. But it doesn’t matter. Other people do watch it. And TV influences people and changes attitudes.
It’s not like I expect Fred Phelps and his crew of loony tunes to suddenly renounce their homophobic ways because two guys on Glee kissed. (Actually, I don’t even think God himself coming down and saying being gay is part of the plan could sway that certifiable group!)
But it’s still good for my boys. Because suddenly people like their dads are on mainstream TV. Hell, even families like ours are starting to pop up. Just take a look at the comedy Modern Family in which two of the characters are a gay couple with an adopted child.
And here’s the best part: their neuroses about parenting have less to do with them being gay and a whole lot more with them simply being parents.
As more mainstream gay characters fill our TV screens, the greater acceptance of gay and lesbian people and “non-traditional” families there will be. And that spells trouble for those opposed to such basic civil rights as gay marriage and gay parent adoptions.
I know. These shows are geared toward progressives and homos! They’re preaching to the choir. And partly that’s true.
But as usual, the real groundbreaking programming isn’t occurring during prime time. It’s coming from soap operas.
A couple of years ago, I was visiting my Aunt “Mimi” in the care facility where she spent the last couple months of her life. The TV was turned to some soap, and we were half watching it as we chatted. All of the sudden, I looked up to see two hot guys embrace and passionately kiss.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Silently, I turned to Mimi in disbelief. She just smiled and raised her eyebrows. Of course, I could have told Mimi I was into doing it with pygmy goats and leprechauns and we still would’ve been cool.
The point is that those images are helping turn the tide. And in the long run, that’s going to help make life easier for my kids.
I guess what really amazes me more than seeing guys kissing on prime-time television, is how quickly it happened. It wasn’t that long ago that Kurt and Blaine’s kiss on Glee would have caused outrage.
Twenty years ago the drama Thirtysomething gained national headlines with an episode in which two supporting characters, a gay couple, were seen lying in bed together. That was it. They didn’t kiss. They didn’t even touch. Just laid there talking. It caused such a stir with the late Sen. Jesse Helms that many progressives thought his head might explode.
Thank heavens poor Jesse didn’t live to see Glee!
If the boys ever see reruns of Glee or Modern Family, will they watch with a sense of history for what these programs did to advance gay rights, and indirectly their own lives? Or will gay and lesbian people be so accepted in everyday life – the boys’ family simply another, run-of-the-mill family – that they’ll focus on the seemingly ridiculous? I wonder if they’ll ask if Kurt being kissed was really such a big deal, the way modern audiences viewing I Love Lucy ask if people in the 1950s really slept in twin beds.
I sure as heck hope so. Almost as much as I hope Kurt and Blaine are married!