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SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same Love

Tonight we are revisiting the shining moments of this week's groundbreaking brand new GLEE.

SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same LoveI Know Where I've Been

"If I was gay, I would think hip hop hates me," Macklemore & Ryan Lewis eloquently relate in their international smash hit "Same Love", one of many self-empowerment and acceptance anthems showcased in tonight's heavily promoted all-new episode of FOX's long-running musical dramedy series GLEE. And, indeed, the subject of the hour was undoubtedly all about embracing otherness and celebrating each other for our differences, not just for our shared similarities. Well, that's not entirely true - love is love and gay love is the same as straight love. Yet, where does the transgender movement fit into the scheme of everything? Indeed, just as the 1990s were emblemized by a pronounced awareness of gay rights and this century so far has seen a myriad of new and necessary legislation and societal changes in regards to how homosexual couples and individuals are perceived - socially, legally, politically and otherwise - so goes the same for transgender rights right here and now. While it is true that gay marriage has not been legalized in all 50 states nor can children be adopted by same-sex parents everywhere either, the leaps and bounds that have been achieved by the tireless supporters of the LGBT movement are to be highly commended for coming so far in such a relatively short period of time. As the Tony Award-winning score for Best Musical winner HAIRSPRAY attests in its unforgettable Marc Shaiman/Scott Wittman barn-burner "I Know Where I've Been" - sensationally and spine-tingly sung on tonight's ep with transgender breakout star Unique (Alex Newell) leading a choir of over 200 trans individuals - there is even more road ahead than already traversed, particularly as far as the trans movement is concerned. As gay rights were to the 1990s and early 2000s, so, now, is the trans movement the next step towards equal rights for all Americans in 2015 as we enter the second half of the second decade of the new millennium.

SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same LoveIn "Transitioning", written by Matthew Hodgson and directed by Dante Di Loreto, Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) embarked on her journey towards becoming the person she was born to be - and always was, all along; a man. Jones imbued her transition from Shannon to Sheldon with detail, sensitivity and grace, as did the carefully rendered episode itself in how it was presented. Although transgender characters and actual trans actors are rising in prominence - look no further than ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and even some progressive news programs for proof of that - it is generally a road far less traveled than the other LGBT assignations, and, therefore, comes rife with risks - and, as it turns out, rewards. GLEE has always been groundbreaking in its continual dramatic depiction and thematic exploration of LGBT characters and tonight's ep was a surefire example of the persuasive power that the series still sporadically possesses, although many may assume it has run out of steam in its final half-dozen episodes given the reduced pop culture acknowledgement it receives. No doubt, last week's Valentine's Day-themed tribute to Burt Bacharach saw the show hit series lows ratings-wise, so the diehard gleeks among us certainly must hope that such an important entry in the series as "Transitioning" - as much a pseudo-very special episode as it may have been - would have maximum impact and the most audience viewing possible. Let's hope.

SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same LoveAs for the songstack of the emotional and engaging ep, a wide range of pop pioneers recognized for raising attention for LGBT causes were spotlighted in a series of dependably entertaining song sequences - Ryan Lewis, Macklemore, Mary Lambert and Cyndi Lauper among them, plus notably ahead of its time stage musical smash HAIRSPRAY and beyond. Appreciably, Matthew Morrison was given the focus of a pleasing portion of the show, with the classic first-person narration that characterized the series for the first few seasons returning for a sweet Mr. Schue soliloquy to start everything off - complete with his new vocal group, Vocal Adrenaline, rocking out with a bravado-boasting Bon Jovi blast via "You Give Love A Bad Name", to boot - and intentionally so. Following up shortly thereafter with yet another harkening back to the start of the series, Schue broke out his rhythm, rhymes and rap skills with a respectable rendition of "Same Love", originally popularized by the aforementioned Ryan Lewis along with Macklemore and Mary Lambert - famously sung on last year's GRAMMY AWARDS with dozens of same-sex couples tying the knot with the trio and Madonna serenading them and Queen Latifah (incidentally, the leading lady of the HAIRSPRAY feature film who croons the tune featured on tonight's show) doing the matrimonial honors. Unique added a winning vocal compliment to Morrison's impressive performance, too - with Schue not only rapping and singing, but accompanying himself on the guitar, as well. Later on in the episode, LGBT advocate Cyndi Lauper got her due with a memorable recreation of her ubiquitous 1980s duet smash "Time After Time" thanks to ever-evolving couple Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Sam (Chord Overstreet), who also shared a touching scene set in Rachel's childhood home. Of course, the biggest moment of all was saved for the finale, with Unique and company bringing "I Know Where I've Been" to a whole other level.

SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same LoveIn addition to awareness-raising, there were a few more frivolous moments of song and dance byway of Meghan Trainor's recent radio hit "All About That Bass" given gravitas by Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Roderick (Noah Guthrie), while Klaine - that is, fan favorite couple Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) - joined together once again for a propulsive cover of "Somebody Loves You" by Betty Who, all-too befitting of the episode containing it.

"Sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you've just got to embrace it," Kurt relayed to Rachel during her New Directions lesson. So, too, goes the nature of the LGBT movement, and, more specifically, the acceptance of trans individuals in society. It's not a choice on their part, nor is it a choice on behalf of anyone else to judge - it's simply the way it is. That's life - and life is beautiful. And, that's true for every individual, however they identify themselves - from head to toe, every single inch. Love is love - and love makes life worth living. GLEE's "Transitioning" gave us a lot to love and hopefully offered anyone struggling with their trans journey even more reason to hope for an even brighter future. It's almost here - and we are almost there.

SOUND OFF: GLEE Transitions, But It's All The Same Love

Photo Credits: FOX

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

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