I am the first to admit that I, and many others, put too much pressure on Glee. It is not the show’s responsibility to solve all the world’s problems, but it certainly has the power and position to change some hearts and minds. Glee’s unique formula has created a viewership that transcends demographics, which creates the opportunity to entertain and educate at the same time. This is why so many in the LGBT community put so much stock into the gay and gay-adjacent plot lines of the show – this content will be seen by millions of people who may have limited exposure to our community.
Therefore, we have complained about Kurt’s sad and irrational infatuation with Finn, the straight awkward guy; we have basically demanded the show to reveal Rachel’s gay fathers, who she talks about so much; and we have speculated as to when Kurt will finally get a boyfriend. The latter appears to be happening early in the upcoming second season.
I am thrilled that Kurt is getting a boyfriend and I am even more thrilled that said boyfriend is the star quarterback, because gay athletes remain largely invisible both in media and in reality. I am sure the storyline will be handled beautifully and it will be captivating to watch and good for providing LGBT visibility, but unfortunately in my desire for the show to reach further and do better, there is one part of "operation boyfriend for Kurt" that I find extremely disappointing: The casting of Chord Overstreet to play the boyfriend.
I am sure that Chord is a very talented actor and a very nice person. He is a good looking young man and he will almost certainly become a big star, BUT he looks like a big pile of stereotype.
If you asked a random American to describe to you what a gay person looks like, they would just show you a picture of Chord Overstreet. He is white, skinny and attractive. I have nothing against skinny white guys, in fact I used to be one of them, but I do have a problem with the narrow focus of LGBT media representations.
On Broadcast Television this past season, there were five leading LGBT characters and 13 LGBT characters in supporting roles. Of those, only one leading character is not white (Callie Torres fromGrey’s Anatomy) and only three of the supporting characters are people of color (Angela from Bones, Angel from Mercy and Oscar from The Office).
LGBT people of color are plagued by invisibility in media and Glee has wasted a golden opportunity to showcase the diversity of the gay community. Hopefully, Ryan Murphy will not waste another opportunity when it is time to cast Rachel’s fathers. In the pilot episode of the show, there is a picture of Rachel’s dads in her locker that shows one white man and one black man.
Photo credit: Twitter