It’s been a while since I have written about my fave TV show, Glee. While my newish subscription to Netflix has opened up great new worlds of television programming (Downton Abbey, anyone?), I am still partial to Glee. As I’ve written before, I love the music, the dancing, and the over the top dialogue. But this year – perhaps even more than previous seasons – I am appreciative of Glee’s portrayal of gay teens.
Glee and its actors have received awards in past years for their representation of teenage homosexuality. These awards have been well-deserved. But the cool thing about this season is that the fanfare seems to have died down, but the writers are still doing their thing, writing about love affairs of the straight and gay variety. It seems to me that sexual preference has become a bit of a non-issue over at McKinley High. In fact, one of the newest students seems to be questioning his gender, together with his sexuality. The sort of live-and-let-live attitude embraced by the fictional folks at McKinley High may not be representative of what is happening at all real life high schools. But if life does in fact imitate art, sexuality and gender may one day be a sideline issue for all of us. Something we notice in people but don’t allow to define them. Something we allow young (and old!) people to explore and express as they may, when they may.
Adolescence can be rough on mental health. Coping with the stressors of changing bodies, hormones, friends, academics, and the future – even the luckiest kids can struggle with bouts of depression and worry. Add to the mix questions of sexuality and gender (and perhaps bullying by peers) and the chance of psychological distress can go up significantly. Programs like Glee which normalize a wide range of sexual expression and gender orientation give all our kids a better chance at navigating the rough road of adolescence with a steady hand.
*Know a LGBTQ teen who is in crisis and in need of help? Check out the Trevor Project, an organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth. Click here for their website, or call 866-488-7386 for their Life Line.