Squeaky Clean or Raunchy By Nature: Glee’s Gay Teen Sexuality Complex
Last night, kids got naughty for the first time on Glee. The episode had a premature ejaculation of controversy mainly because the Parents Television Council called the cherry-popping story arc, “reprehensible” even before it aired. Apparently the PTC has never watched Gossip Girl or Teen Mom, where popped cherry sherbet is served on a weekly basis.
Ryan Murphy felt the need to defend the episode because he can’t really keep his mouth shut. “Everybody has seen a straight couple losing their virginity,” Ryan told EW, “but has anyone dovetailed the gay and straight stories together and given them equal weight? That seemed like an exciting choice and a new thing.” So is Ryan Murphy more interested in pushing conservative buttons or creating realistic portrayals? (See also: Nip/Tuck, American Horror Story).
Chris Colfer (Kurt) also had to preface the episode in where his virginal, almost-asexual character gets (I assume) pounded. He told E! News, “it is just kind of a known fact that a lot of gay kids are very promiscuous and non-exclusive…which is really sad.” Colfer hopes that Kurt and Blaine can change that trend of gay teens being total whores. Browsing DList.com, I can’t help but think that the young actor may have a point…
Speaking of whores, Glee also introduced a new character last night. A well-traveled and liberated boyfriend-stealer with a mouthful for a first name: Sebastian. The new character throws a wrench in Kurt and Blaine’s committed, monogamous relationship by taking them to a gay bar called Scandals (“What an unrealistic name for a gay bar!” I originally thought, but boy, was I wrong) on the west part of town, of course. A bouncer soft on fake IDs, tragic drag queens, and closeted bear cubs who used to torment you in high school? Sounds like a small-town gay bar to me.
After watching the rest of episode, it was refreshing to see a gay teen couple go through similar tribulations as their straight counterparts. The actual sex scenes were “milder than warm milk,” according to Queerty’s Brody Brown, who would loved to have seen, “Kurt and Blaine invite Karofsky over for a threesome.” By comparison, the photoshoots Chris Colfer and Darren Chriss (Blaine) did for Rolling Stone and OUT magazine, respectively, were far more risqué than this week’s tepid episode. Even though it was not exploitative, it was still problematic.
Gay teens, according to Glee, are either Kurts or Sebastians, with the Blaines having to choose between the two. It’s a big gay world, yes, where you can embrace who you are… but only if it falls into just two categories: virgins or home-wreckers. Either “sexually boring” yet loyal or slutty but dangerous. Singing a capella or sneaking into divey bars. No action below the belt or meeting the love of your 20 minutes. Kurt is monogamy, commitment. If it were up to Chris Colfer, the way gays should be, and the way Ryan Murphy chooses to highlight heroically. Sebastian, on the other hand, disappeared at the bar, never to be seen again.
Sexuality should be represented as empowerment over both objectification and shame, not an either/or, back and forth.
Tyler Oakley said it best:
I don’t at all think any fictional couple should carry that burden of showing what a gay relationship ‘should be and could be.’ I do appreciate the LGBTQ representation in popular culture, but I don’t need a holier-than-thou scripted romance to teach me relationship morals. There’s no ‘right’ way to love, and there is no ‘right’ way to do relationships.
BOY TOYS TALK BACK: Are gay teens more promiscuous? Should we focus on curbing gay teen sexuality until it’s warmer than milk? How do you balance being gay, young, and sexy – without being objectified or slut-shamed?