Glee is not revolutionary. I have seen a number of headlines lately about the gay element of Glee and how it is revolutionizing the gay image in Hollywood. Well, I’m sorry, but this is just some more Hollywood Hullabuloo. In fact, not only is it silly smoke screens to capitalize on the popularity and the controversy of the gay characters on the show, but it steamroles over some of the On Screen LGBT revolutions that HAVE taken place.
Does anyone remember Jack McPhee? He was a character on Dawsons Creek. He was gay. He came out in highschool, and he can be creditted with having the FIRST GAY KISS ON PRIMETIME TELEVISION. Seems the media has forgotten, but I haven’t. He also actively dated, and his homosexuality, and troubles that went along with it were dealt with many times on the show. By the end of the series he was even in a committed relationship with a daughter. Now that is revolutionary. Also, they didn’t shy away from the issues of homosexuality largely being centered around, what? SEXUALITY! He had sexual love affairs. Imagine that? Gay sex being part of being gay? Yeah, we seem to have forgotten that one too. He also had an affair with an older married man who was trying to live his happily married life AND get to placate his homosexual desires. That is revolutionary.
What Glee has managed to do is the same thing Twilight did to vampires. Glee has made homosexuality sparkle. It’s taken the grit, the reality, out of what it means to be gay. They are cute, they are feminine, they sing love songs to each other, they deal with bullies. They have been made cute and acceptable to christian pre-teens and sheltered housewives everywhere. This does not make them revolutionary. It makes them a gigantic step backwards. Sure, america is getting comfortable with gay boys. Maybe. I feel they are only getting comfortable with a lie, an image that fox has been able to sell and call “revolution”. It makes people feel good about themselves. It makes them feel more accepting. But I don’t think it will make them any more comfortable or accepting of having an openly gay man coaching their kid’s basketball team. The coach isn’t pretty, he doesn’t sing songs, and yes, he does have sex with his partner. He doesn’t sparkle.
Jack McPhee isn’t the only revolutionary prime time gay character to be forgotten. I’m sure there’s many who must remember Willow Rosenberg. She was another Prime Time Queer. She came out a few seasons in to the hit FOX show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her major love affair was with Tara Maclay. They had a very intimate on screen relationship, and shared many romantic on screen moments. They lived together and helped care for Dawn for a short while. They slept in the same bed, they kissed, they loved each other. And they have been forgotten by the mass media machines who are bent on making Glee the big revolution of this generation. Sorry folks, the revolution already happened. You are riding the coattails. Oh well, we can forgive them right? Afterall it’s what the media is all about. Use whatever means necessary to keep your money-maker popular. It’s what we teach our kids. But what is it doing to the gay community? In the wake of a number of gay teen suicides is it fair to use their pain and desperation to sky rocket a tv show into popularity? Is it fair to use them to make a generation of people on the verge of being accepting feel like they are already there?
How many people who are in love with the gay boys on Glee would feel comfortable watching Queer as Folk. Though Queer as Folk is a cable television show and cannot join the ranks of Prime Time Queers, it is still revolutionary. It’s raunchy, sexual, sometimes-realistic, sometimes-gay-fantasy, club-filled depiction of gay life impossibly made it to cable television. To have a show where the very few straight relationships on the show end up feeling odd and sometimes out of place even to heterosexual viewers is revolutionary. To have a show where gay sex, SEX becomes so normal that you don’t even bat an eyelash at it is revolutionary, both for sexuality in general but particularly for homosexuality in the main stream. The fact that it stayed on television for 5 seasons is a testament to how many people, gay and straight, that it reached.
Sex is what really makes homosexuality and heterosexuality different, and Queer as Folk puts it right in your face and asks “what’s wrong with that?” So it’s different. That does not make it any less loving or any less fun. Or any less right. Oh, but the bible says it’s not okay, and they are having sex out of wedlock! Well, who’s fault is that.
I would like to see a show on Prime Time show the reality of being gay that Queer as Folk did and make THAT acceptable to the general public. THAT would be revolutionary.
Cheesecake twinkly gay boys are easy to sell. Sell something hard. Pun definitely intended.