Glee creator Ryan Murphy has said that the show’s long standing legacy will be its inclusion of gay characters. Accepting an award from the Family Equality Council, the showrunner said in his speech that his show, along with Modern Family and Orange Is The New Black, have brought LGBTQ characters to the masses, though he added that there is still a long way to go.
“If I look back to seven years ago, Glee was going to be about a lot of things – song, dance, Jane Lynch’s character being waterboarded – but for me, I wanted to do something personal on the show,” he told the council.
“So with Glee I wanted to write about something personal, something about gay characters, something about creating your own kind of family no matter who you are or where you live.”He continued: “I have always believed in the ideology of one of my friends and idols, Norman Lear, that the way to acceptance is understanding. You have to see it, experience it in your own house and your life, to empathise.”
Murphy also went on to give credit to his own show and others for furthering the gay rights movement over the years.
“I have been told that seven years ago, before Glee and Modern Family and Transparent and Orange Is the New Black, that only 18% of Americans believed that a gay or non-traditional family was entitled to equal rights.
“Today, that number has grown to 52%. That is a great change, that is a great victory, shockingly in such a short amount of time, but there is more work to be done.”
While these might sound like arrogant and bold claims, Murphy has a valid point. Actors Chris Colfer and Darren Criss, who portray the recently married Kurt and Blaine on the show, have oft been credited with saving teenagers lives by giving them role models to look up to. Seeing these characters, along with Naya Rivera and Heather Morris’ Santana and Brittany, on the show has given a voice to LGBTQ teens thoughts and feelings, and not only that, but these relationships have been treated as completely normal; a refreshing change in mainstream TV.Glee has not been afraid to highlight the bad as well as the good, too. Much of the first season was focused on a young Kurt coming to terms with his sexuality, coming out to his dad and dealing with horrific bullying at school. Even meeting Blaine, the love of his life, was not without its fair share of problems, and when Kurt was elected as Prom Queen in season two, we all cheered when Kurt held his head high and Blaine asked him to dance in front of the whole school.
Santana was outed by Finn, her friend, and she promptly delivered a slap that sent everyone reeling. She has also had to deal with the long term coldness from her Abuela, Alma, which was only eventually resolved when Santana and Brittany wed.
As the series draws to a close, both couples have found long term happiness, giving a message of hope to not only gay people, but the audience as a whole. The right person is out there for all of us, folks.
‘Klaine,’ easily the most loved relationship on the show, has been ground breaking, of that there can be little doubt. Whatever your thoughts and feelings surrounding the rest of the show, Murphy’s work with these two characters must be applauded.
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