Robert Hsu worries that Glee is showing too happy a portrayal of being gay. Is he right, and does it even matter? First, Hsu:
The portrayal of Kurt and Santana as strong and empowered gay teens may have been written to influence viewers positively, but it significantly downplays the gravity of homophobia in our society and makes coming out seem unrealistically simple. Sexuality is not an ephemeral guise. It is an integral part of one’s identity.
Furthermore, the relationship between Brittany and Santana is made to seem less important than Kurt and Blaine’s. The gay relationship in question is borne out of romance while the lesbian relationship appears to stem from a brief sexual encounter that took place before Santana even acknowledged her sexuality.
A skeptical viewer might even see how Brittany and Santana were choreographed to tantalize the eyes of straight men. Their relationship develops abruptly and is often inconsistent, allowing viewers to forget that lesbian relationships based on love and commitment do exist in real life.
All valid point. Then again, the show is called “Glee,” not Downer. In all seriousness, I think these are valid points, to a degree. Coming out doesn’t go so well, for some people. In my case, it went pretty well – my family accepted me, my friends did too. In my cousin’s case, his parents disowned him. Does Glee need to show a kid thrown out of his home for being gay? Will that really make gay teens feel better?
Now, I don’t think we want any show lulling gay kids into thinking that per se coming out will go fine. It may not. And when you can’t afford to put a roof over your own head, there are serious risks to coming out to your family. Are gay kids really going to forget that after having watched a TV show? And it’s not like it’s been a cakewalk for the gay characters on Glee.
I’m a bit divided. I’m not sure that we can have “too many” positive portrayals of being gay at this point in our lives. Kids know it’s not easy. What they need to know is that it can get better, and that they can survive whatever they’re going through. So I suspect I’m okay with Glee being a tad too Gleeful at times.
As for Santana and Brittany, sure it wouldn’t hurt the show at some point to show a healthy committed lesbian relationship. But some relationships are less clear cut. So to that degree, Glee is doing exactly what Hsu asked for, showing things as they really are.