We be so excited. Glee's prom show, which appeared last Tuesday, kick-started by a joyous rendition of Rebecca Black's Friday, showcased a male prom king and queen.
But good things come at a great cost, as this deeply moral show always insists: Before Kurt, the openly gay Glee kid, was crowned queen, he ran away from the gymnasium sobbing from the "humiliation." He was coaxed back in by his boyfriend, Blaine, who had been initially reluctant to attend because he was gay-bashed at the prom at his previous school. Then Kurt took the stage and said, "Kate Middleton, eat your heart out," and everyone went crazy. He then slow-danced with Blaine, and the streamers fluttered and balloons fell like swooning hearts.
It was good to see Kurt and Blaine kiss a few weeks ago (even if the Ugly Betty show beat Glee to showcasing a high-profile mainstream TV teen-boy kiss, and much more hotly, last year), and now, to see them come out large, not merely accepted by peers but social superstars.
But Kurt's humiliation brought up an intriguing point that was never developed. Why did he feel so bad? He never said.
On Modern Family last week, the gay couple Mitchell and Cam faced a similar dilemma, and discussed and dramatized it riotously and well.
On Mother's Day, Mitchell brings Cam breakfast in bed on a tray. "It's your day," he says. Cam begins screaming at his husband: "You think of me as Lily's mother! I'm your wife! I'm a woman," and Mitchell runs, hissing at their little daughter, waiting in the wings with balloons, "Forget it, she is in a mood!"
The Modern Family couple examined their own sense of each other, then, addressing the camera, told women that they are not us. They do not want to go to our baby showers; they do not have a time of the month and they do not like pink. ("Pink likes me," Cam quickly avers.)
Cam, played so well by Eric Stonestreet, is sensitive and bullish; emotional and pragmatic. He is both effeminate and exceedingly masculine (imposing, a football fanatic and physically daunting). He objects to being a woman because he is a man, and because being openly gay means that one has made a profound declaration of self.
In the largely ignored movie I Love You Phillip Morris (2009), Jim Carrey's once-closeted character Steven Russell has "an epiphany" after an accident. "I'm gonna be a fag!" he yells, "a big fag!"
This revelation comes on the heels of his understanding that he can begin his life again by coming out, that he can start again as "the real me."
So many of us have no idea who we are, or what we want. In a short story by the late great Toronto writer Daniel Jones, the author remarks of a friend (who has just left his wife) who reveals that he is gay: "I'm surprised, but hardly shocked. Rather, I am jealous that he knows what he wants, and that it is something different."
It is this - knowing what we want - that so often eludes us. Born, then placed into categories, so many of us just drift along, ferried forward by the extrinsic definitions of "man" and "woman," even "straight" and "queer."
When Kurt Cobain sang "Everyone is gay" in the song All Apologies, he was speaking to the infinite possibilities manifest in all of us for change and growth, for sublime self-awareness and an acute awareness of others as not merely another (to paraphrase, wildly, French philosopher Maurice Blanchot).
Back to the prom: While gay activists are hailing this show as another triumph for actor Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt (like his Golden Globes speech in which he dared gay kids to be different, in spite of potential derision or worse), I feel that Glee's Kurt should have done one of two things with his crown.
He could have broken it to bits like, and unlike, Lindsay Lohan's character in Mean Girls and, instead of sharing the bits, ground them into dust beneath his Doc Martens. Or, he could have summoned the eerie Carrie vibe that pervaded this episode and started injuring the crown with his mind.
I am sick of the high road, sick of the noble abuse victim: Kurt (dressed in a kilt/skirt for this episode) is a man and, axiomatically, not the prom queen. His acceptance of the tiara does not change the meaning of his election.
Meaningful irony seldom stops bullies. "Bricks and bats," Woody Allen once suggested (to a group of piqued intellectuals discussing how to handle skinheads). Such an arsenal helps a great deal more.
To the same kids Colfer reached out to: Do what you please, know who you are and never stop attending Krav Maga self-defence classes.
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