Kurt’s Big Hollywood Screen Kiss

Kurt Hummel, just after his unexpected first kiss

If we follow each other on Twitter, you know I’ve been a fan of “Glee” in the past, despite the frequent political sucker punches aimed at conservatives like Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter. You also know I finally got so disgusted with their snide political remarks that I vowed not to watch the show anymore very recently. (Also, they ruined the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” which I will never forgive.)

When I learned about the show’s token gay character’s big onscreen kiss, I had to look up the episode on Hulu and watch, in spite of myself.

I read a couple of tweets about the kiss, which consequently left me unprepared for it when it finally happened, because I was lead to believe it took place in an entirely different context than it did.

I suppose I should start off by saying how much the character of Kurt annoys me. It’s not that there aren’t gay men just like Kurt. It’s that the liberal media seems to urge tolerance of gays, but only of the highly stylish and fabulous gays just like Kurt.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a good example of this. People (mostly women) found new acceptance of gay men because they were so wonderfully snarky, knew how to dress better than everyone else and were just the bestest girlfriends one could ever have! (The last paragraph is to be read aloud in breathless gasps.)

Well I, for one, would like to announce I am on strike. I am not fabulous. I dress like a slob. True, I do have a pair of mustard yellow Hush Puppies, but the cat peed on them. Mostly, I wear jeans and t-shirts. And my t-shirts are noticeably devoid of carefully crafted graphics. I can’t dance to save my life, and I do not have chiseled abs or winsome and boyish good looks. I’m fat, crotchety and you can all just get the hell off my lawn.

That being said, Kurt wouldn’t annoy me half as much if there weren’t so many of him in the media.

Given all that, I was actually impressed by Glee’s “Never Been Kissed” episode. There were actually several interwoven tales to which the title was applicable, not just the gay thing.

If you haven’t watched the show, Kurt is being bullied by one person. Not just taunted, but constantly shoved into lockers, pushed and threatened. Naturally, his tormentor is a big, evil, football playing jock. Kurt is tired of his life, and goes undercover to find out what his alternatives are, where he meets Blaine: a privileged and well-adjusted gay boy who goes to a very exclusive private academy. Blaine actually offers Kurt some very sound advice. “You can run, or you can stop being the victim and do something about it.”

Funny, I’ve been saying that same thing for a while now, but people just keep telling me how self loathing I am when I say it. Maybe now that the message has come from an appropriately liberal source, people will take it to heart.

Anyhow, Kurt falls head over heels for Blaine, but it isn’t Blaine who bestows our hapless cliche his first kiss. Instead, when pushed into the locker one too many times, Kurt chases down his bully and confronts him. Said bully then grabs Kurt and plants a big, juicy kiss right on the lips.

Kurt is appalled. And, only later, when he is talking to Blaine, do we learn that was Kurt’s very first kiss.

I know I’ll get shit from some of my conservative friends for saying this, but the message was well on point. Yes. It is totally a cliche to assume anyone who bullies gay kids is, in fact, gay. But I can tell you from painful personal experience there is often some truth to it.

The truth is, people picked on me in school, but I was never beat or hurt. For one, I’m just short of 5’11”. Not a huge guy by any standards. But I’ve been this tall since 8th grade. Also, I hit puberty at least a year before anyone else in my class. To be extremely candid, it’s a little hard for the tough guys to impugn your masculinity, then hit the showers in gym class and … surprise! One of these things is not like the other.

Also, in 7th grade, one of the tough kids at my school – a greasy stoner by the name of Scott MacKenzie – walked up to me in class and called me a fag. I looked him square in the eye (which meant I was looking considerably downward), and told him that just because he was a fag didn’t mean everyone had to be. With all his friends around, what could he do but threaten to kick my ass? The ass kicking failed to happen.

I’m still waiting, Scott, wherever you are.

Yeah, so I had it easier than lots of gay teenagers, if you listen to the media. Certainly, I had it easier than Kurt. I was a varsity athlete myself (swimming). Like Kurt, I sang in the concert and jazz choirs in my school, but our school seemed to think talent was cool. Not that I have a huge musical gift or anything, but my almost non-existent popularity did improve when I sang my first solo at a school concert.

I was kind of my own universe in high school. I went to an on campus prayer meeting before classes. Was in the choir. Was on the swim team. Went to Bible study. Was active in my church. Partied with the alternative punks and new wavers. I didn’t fit in anywhere, so I was tolerated practically everywhere.

And this was in the very early 1980’s, when even liberal Democrats were loathe to voice acceptance of gay people. Of course, unlike Kurt, I wasn’t “out” at school, though everybody knew. For one, there was the stunning lack of girlfriends. Or the absolutely disinterest in boobs of any kind.

I’m rambling again, but my point is essentially this: there were tons of reasons for people to hate me in school besides the gay thing. I was called a Jesus Freak, a geek, a nerd, a loser. I was socially awkward and often wore wool sweaters and ties to class. But people gave me some respect, albeit grudgingly.

Kurt, while a completely cliched and stereotypical fictional character, needs to learn to be less of a victim. He needs to stop insisting that everyone accept him on his terms while poo-pooing almost everyone who isn’t him. Tolerance goes in all directions.

While the homophobia and bigotry cards are definitely overplayed in our society, they sometimes have their uses. I hope the writers of “Glee” make good use of this one, and develop this bully into something more than a self-hating closet case. The fact is, it can be hard to be so young and to being realizing that everything one was looking forward to in life – all the traditional milestones – might not be possible. It can be heartbreaking.

I had my whole life planned out. I was going to go to college, get married directly afterward and have two children while still young enough to “relate” to them as they were growing up. I wanted to be a pastor.

None of that happened.

But when God closes a door, he opens a window. Kurt’s first kiss may not have been the kiss he’d hoped for, but I loved it for it’s unexpected qualities. Of course, “Glee” will probably follow this story line along a typically liberal and predictable path, where everyone will grow to love and accept Kurt no matter how much of an annoying snob and diva he is, while he continues to look down on the bourgeois, small town mindset of everyone else around him.

Still, the overall message I got out of this particular episode of “Glee” was that things aren’t always what they appear to be, and that true tolerance (rather than the faux progressive tolerance) is always a lesson in vogue.

Then again, I’m no fun at cocktail parties, so what do I know?

 

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2 Responses to “Kurt’s Big Hollywood Screen Kiss”
  1. We are a Glee-free home, but I am aware of the characters of the show. Was I the LAST person to know you’re gay? LOL “Gay” wasn’t even something I knew about in High School. I had no idea what you went through. It makes me sad. That sad thing about the Scott MacKenzies of the world is that they have NO IDEA what they did to people. He probably doesn’t even remember you, let alone what he said/did. Yet, bullies have a lasting impact on those they picked on.

    I am fighting my middle school right now over bullying. The school has taken the stance (although will not openly admit it) that the only type of bullying that matters is when it’s directed at gay students. At least 75% of the curriculum on bullying and sexual harassment has centered around gay kids. Now, they have suggested all kids wear purple MONTHLY for the entire school year to “recognize the bullying of ‘small groups’ of kids”. I challenged them on why they picked purple and was told that it was just a color they decided on and had no other meaning (don’t treat me like I’m stupid).

    While I am sure that gay kids get bullied to horrendous levels like you did – so do fat kids, religious kids, kids with red hair and freckles, kids who are short or develop early or late, etc. School is ROUGH because there is alway some kid with low self-esteem who likes to make themselves feel big by picking on kids that exhibit the qualities the bully hates in themselves. My bully was Heidi someone-or-another in 5th grade who slammed her knee in my crotch every single recess for no apparent reason (it’s not just boys that hurt when that happens). It would take my breath away. I never did figure out why she did that – except that she, like me, had red hair. Self-loathing, I suppose. Like a good victim, I never said a word to anyone about it. I wish I had, now.

    Bullying of ANY type HURTS if you’re the target of it. No one group has a lock on it being worse or more hurtful. That’s not the message my kids are getting at their school. They are being told that being gay makes it all the worse. I wonder what the fat girl with pimples thinks when she’s being told that her torment doesn’t quite reach the same level of importance as the butch girl’s behind her. I loved your blog entry about “Spirit Day” when you say you can’t create unity by teaching divisiveness. So true – let the “bullied” band together against the bullies and stop trying to make one type of bullying worse than another because while the victims are fighting about who’s the bigger victim, the bullies are still doing their thing.

    And, BTW, you weren’t a bad dancer – LOL

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