Leone Kraus

How Glee Facebook Status Updates Are Promoting Equality

Filed By Leone Kraus | September 20, 2010 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: Chris Colfer, Facebook, Glee, Kraus Notes, LGBT rights, promoting equality, status updates

I have a confession to make - I don't own a television. My pop-culture intake comes from free video content on Hulu and Facebook status updates.  (I gave up television when it became impossible to watch it for free with rabbit ears.)Chris Colfer GLEE.JPEG

Granted, I love Hulu, but the Facebook status bar is my favorite source of information. The status bar is Facebook's most popular tool, delivering approximately 45 million status updates daily - holy smokes!

Every Tuesday, without fail, my Facebook news feed is consumed by status updates by Gleekers, fans of the hit television show Glee, dishing out their views on the latest plot summaries and opinions on their song and dance performances in real time.

I too am a fan of Glee. To avoid these spoilers, I have to force myself to logout of Facebook.  This is nearly impossible to do since it is a tool I use to everyday, so I have resigned myself to the fact that I will never have a spoiler-free season of Glee. At least until I sign on the dotted line for over-priced digital cable.

For many, Glee serves as an opportunity to get lost in a fantasy world and play the role of Rachel or Finn, prancing around the school singing pop melodies to a well-choreographed routine. Others relive high school with the perfectly contrived witty comebacks of Kurt Hummel and Sue Sylvester.

For me, the show is all of these things and more.  In a greater sense, it appeals to me, and my demographic, because it openly displays LGBT acceptance, and serves as a tool to educate without making it the main dramatic focus of the show.

Why Glee is So Important to Educating on LGBT Equality

Historically, depictions of gays in the media have either made LGBT ridiculous, such as our modern day Will and Grace, or tragic and heartrending, such as Philadelphia, Angels in America, Brokeback Mountain, or Boys Don't Cry.  This is a stark contrast to Glee's coming-out episode, in which Kurt was lovingly accepted by the father- and then we moved on to other episodes.  He is an important role in the show, but no different, more dramatic, or more important than any other character; in a sense, equal.

It's rare to find a show with multiple out gay actors. Sue Sylvester, played by Jane Lynch, and Kurt Hummel, played by Chris Colfer, both bring a positive message about the importance of being true to oneself.  Both actors have been open about their sexuality, which is what the equality movement needs.

It is refreshing to see more people of star status coming out.  These people, while they have a lot to lose by coming out, also can make the most difference by doing so.   They help to normalize being LGBT, and shift the opinions of the opposition. Stars like Ricky Martin, who recently came out via his blog after years of speculation from the media, decided he couldn't lead a double-life in front of his kids. Another example is Anna Paquin who came out as bisexual as part of the Give A Damn campaign to promote LGBT equality. Of course, no one can forget one of the first, and most prominent example of our time, a woman who so many lesbian women look to for an role model of strength and style, Ellen DeGeneres.  While it took a few years for the buzz to die down after she came out, with high-profile coverage such as the cover-story in Time magazine, "Yep, I'm Gay," in 1997, Ellen's talk show is now one the most highly rated day-time talk shows, with millions of viewers tuning in and listening to anecdotes about her wife, Portia De Rossi.  Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer are continuing this trend, and expanding on it.

How Glee Can Make a Difference

Every week, millions on both sides of the 'equality for all' divide tune-in to Glee.  I don't have proof, but I'm sure a number of the students, parents, and staff from Constance McMillen's high school watch Glee every week. I would even place bets that some are envious of Chris Colfer, who is just fresh out of high school at 19 and professionally successful, even though he's openly gay.

Glee is in an excellent position to continue to make a difference in the LGBT equality movement. With its powerful reach and relatable characters, many people who have never met a gay person can now find a connection with Glee.

With all this said, I encourage all of my fellow Gleekers to continue to post Faceboook status updates about their love for Glee and to have dialogue with their peers about the importance of LGBT acceptance.

Check out this adorable video of Chris Colfer that an avid fan of Glee put together. Adam Lambert covers the song.

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"promotes LGBT acceptance" um, I'm sorry, when has GLEE ever promoted acceptance of trans people. At one point Sue called someone a "shemale" as a joke. Ryan Murphy's other long running show "Nip/Tuck" has a horrible record of depicting trans people. Please don't say LGBT when you really mean gay.

Ugh, yes. It was the only trans reference on the show I know of, it happened without consequence or even follow up, and the next day every cis queer online seemed to be defending it because she's a mean character.

I do enjoy the show and love Kurt as a character, but come to think of it, I don't think there are any bi folks or promotion of acceptance of bi folks either. And is there even any lesbian character? So often I hear LGBT when folks mean LGB or at least LG, but I think you're right in this case, it really should just be "gay."

GinaSF, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. You are absolutely correct. I should be more careful when using the term "LGB" vs "LGBT." Also in Tobi's comment below, I should use "LG" or just "gay" over "LGBT." Both of you have brought up really good points - thank you!

This about a million times. I can't stand GLEE's cissexism.

Ah, well. You can't please all of the people, etc... I do agree that tolerance, acceptance and conflict is all part of the GLEE experience- and it's touching a lot of people!

Thanks for taking the comment D. You see what I see, which is fantastic. I wish there would have been a show like this when I was growing up.

I know- I had to settle for the questionable Uncle Arthur on Bewitched... if these youngsters only knew the progress we've made! :)

True. I remember when Ellen's coming out was a huge deal because there was a lesbian on TV every week instead of hoping for a gay murder victim on TV occasionally.

Glee is refreshing - at least for gay rights.

Still, like Gina, I'm looking forward to the day when "LGBT supportive" will be correct acronym to use with GLEE.

Just for the record, "Philadelphia" a two-time Academy Award winner, was one of the first frank mainstream depictions of HIV/AIDS in the United States. It was supposedly Jonathan Demme's response to accusations from the GLBT community - false, I believe - that his prior movie, "Silence of The Lambs," was a cruel, unnatural depiction of transvestism and yet still another assault on the GLBT community in Hollywood pictures. "Boys Don't Cry" showed how life in rural America is lived for some members of the transsexual community and, as the movie clearly showed, horrific would hardly begin to describe that experience. That a film finally dealt honestly a major star was remarkable even if it was 1999. Hillary Swank won an Academy Award first for her role as Brandon Teena.

"Brokeback Mountain" is based on a short story by Annie Proulx of the same name and is the highest grossing American film to deal exclusively with a gay relationship of all time and the fifth highest-grossing Western ever. It had the highest number of nominations going into the 2006 Academy Awards (8) and won three including one for Ang Lee for "Best Director." Angels in America, on the other hand, won the 'Best Play' award for both "Millennium Approaches" and "Perestroika" at the Tonys, the Drama Desk Awards and the Kennedy Center Award for "Best New Play."

I know AIDS and the struggle to live openly as a sexual minority aren't nearly as fun as subjects as, say, members of a Glee club, but these films are groundbreaking not because they were about gay men and women and the lives they lead. But because we weren't asking the audience to see us a gay victims but as human victims. Not as upscale urban stereotypes that drank a lot of Martinis and were incredibly witty. But as people you welcomed into your homes every Thursday the way you did The Cosby's 20 years before. This in and of itself is quite remarkable, although you don't see it that way.

Thanks for taking the time to comment MOCBlogger. I think it is remarkable actually. However, I'm not sure how many our LGBT youth ages 12 - 16 would watch a film as old as Philadelphia, Boys Don't Cry, or Brokeback Mountain.

I think Glee provides Constance McMillen's generation a platform to see the community portrayed in mainstream, albeit, as noted above, the show does not address all LGBT but rather just 'gay.' I still believe it's a huge step forward and serves as an opportunity to educate those who were once opposed. Even I've received fan mail from people in my past apologizing for being rude. Some of these people are the ones who post most excitedly about Glee. That for me, in a sense, is showing that those around me are getting some education on tolerance and acceptance.

The "L" and "B" are covered with the characters Brittany and Santana. If you happen to remember scene where there was discussion where Brittany admitted that she and Santana were having sex. We also know that Santana has sex with Puck later on.

As for our new football coach, we may have the "T" after all, who knows.

Give cut Glee some slack, it is just a show. Enjoy it for what it is worth and be glad it paints things in a positive light for most part.

Thanks Dan. I just watched Tuesday's episode. I believe Ryan Murphay is truly trying to use the show as a platform to educate about the importance of acceptance, tolerance and equality. I think they heard to concerns of many bloggers and are now addressing in the script.

Thanks for also reminding me on the bi-sexual story line! I'm sure it will come up again. Did you see how close Sunshine and Rachel got while singing 'Telephone!'? :) That may be a stretch but they choreography appeared intimate.

Glee isn't really about acceptance for any marginalized groups except the creator's demographic, white cis gay men. It's another show primarily about the white characters with a colorful background of secondary characters so it can be touted as 'diverse' when the racial stereotypes and the rampant misogyny can be happily glossed over because oh my god, they did a Lady Gaga song.

And seriously? Coach Beiste is a masculine woman, therefore we're going to question whether she's cis or trans?

I say this as someone who watches the show every week.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Jon. I know the show has its disappointments for a lot of people but this mainstream media has come leaps and bounds to where we were just a few years ago. This show doesn't have "token gays" which was a big deal for mainstream movies to have in the mid to late 90s. At least Glee is trying to normalize this idea by making Chris' character a lead.