By: Jun. 10, 2020
WAITRESS Filmed Capture to Screen in Times Square

Happy Pride Month! During the month of June, BroadwayWorld will be bringing you a look back on LGBTQ+ representation in television. We will delve into some of the shows and episodes that broke barriers for the LGBTQ+ community on television! The next show in the series is Glee, a FOX television series that heavily influenced the mainstream.

In 2009, FOX debuted the musical comedy-drama television series Glee, created by by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan.. The series centers on the William McKinley High School glee club, the New Directions, and its members. Glee starred Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Jayma Mays, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Kevin McHale, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Mark Salling, Jenna Ushkowitz, Darren Criss.

There are many justified criticisms of the series, but its impact on bringing LGBTQ+ storylines to the mainstream can not be overlooked. Glee premiered in 2009, at a time when only 36 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage. So having a series on network television that featured high school students in same-sex relationships had a huge influence on mainstream media.

Glee featured many typical high school relationships, but it also showed love stories that young queer people could look up to. Kurt, one of the main characters in the series, comes out early on in the first season. In season two, he meets and subsequently falls in love with Blaine, played by Darren Criss. In addition to Kurt and Blaine, Glee featured a lesbian relationship between cheerleaders Santana and Brittany, whose friendship turns romantic in the second season. In season six, Kurt and Blaine even marry in a double ceremony with Brittany and Santana. Both of these romances normalized same-sex relationships for teenagers watching the show and gave them romantic possibility models for their own lives.

The series also featured two transgender characters during its run. In the third season, Alex Newell portrayed the character Unique Adams, a young trans woman who sings in the Vocal Adrenaline choir and later transfers to McKinley. Adams struggles with her identity and being accepted by others. Adams returns in the sixth season to help Coach Beiste, who comes out as transgender. Adams helps Beiste make with the decision to undergo gender confirmation surgery, which Beiste ends up doing, taking on the new name Sheldon Beiste. Glee gave its viewers the opportunity to see characters who are exploring gender identity at different ages of life, something that very few shows had done before.

Glee was a Pop culture phenomenon, winning multiple Emmys and Golden Globes during its six season run. It also spawned many albums and even a concert film. Glee was proof that American audiences wanted to see queer love stories and it opened the door for the next generation of television shows featuring LGBTQ+ main characters!

Check back every Monday and Wednesday in June for new editions in the series!


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