When Did Glee Become Gay?


Not that long ago we were having lunch with a couple we know from California.  They’re a straight couple, the husband is a pilot (which is a relatively macho profession, I guess), and they really enjoy the TV show Glee.  The husband was mentioning how much guff he gets from fellow pilots – the vast majority of whom are male – about this.  Of course, the running conceit of the show is that the glee club students keep getting bullied because being in show choir is “so gay”.  That got me to wondering, when did the idea of being in glee club become gay?

Male Performers

Consider examples of men singing through the ages: Think of the cowboys who had a guitar or harmonica, singing by the campfire.  Think of the family gatherings a century or more ago where different members of the family would play instruments or sing in the family parlour after dinner to entertain each other.  Think of the famous opera singers with their rich voices.  Think of the bad boys of rock and roll, hip hop, and punk.  Think of Bruce Springsteen, for goodness’ sakes. 

None of these strike me as particularly effeminate.  Sure, I can make the jokes about Brokeback Mountain (“wasn’t just the harmonica he was blowing…”) and there are the occasional Freddie Mercuries and Frankie Goes to Hollywoods as counterexamples.  But for the most part, being a singer was a sure way to get the girls.  So when did glee club in school get this negative association?

The good news is that, in an age when the arts budgets are the first on the chopping block in local school districts, it seems that the TV show Glee has sparked some new interest in show choirs at high schools across the US.  Both my mother and her father were music educators and I’m sure they’re happy for anything that renews interest in music at the school level.


0 thoughts on “When Did Glee Become Gay?

  1. I don’t understand what being gay or straight have got to do with anything you do actually. The kinds of shows you watch, the music, books and even career! Apparently, your sexuality can define your career choice too… I get to hear it all the time, since I’m in fashion. lol

  2. I love that show and think they bring awareness to so many important topics. It’s interesting how they are called a “show choir” but show tunes are the least of what they do. The response they get at school is more the stereotypical response to the crowd who performs in Broadway style shows, of which I was a card carrying member! But they mostly perform current hits and wear regular clothes, so the response is interesting.

  3. Hmm. I don’t watch Glee. I saw 2 episodes and I wasn’t interested… The guys in my HS “Swing Choir” were all very macho. It was a big deal to make the choir – about as much competition to make the varsity football team…

  4. I am aware of the show but have not seen an episode. I’m a bit puzzled though how some shows are considered gay. Maybe one day, this type of stereotype will fade away. I was watching Formula One racing this morning and the Indy 500 now (off and on). I like watching car racing. I guess racing programs are gay?

  5. @ElusiveWords – @Fatcat723 – In this case, I wasn’t particularly thinking of the show itself begin gay, but more so the idea of show choirs in general.  The conceit of the show is that the kids get picked on because they are in the glee club and that seems to be a generally understood joke.  But where and when did being in choir become such a “wuss” thing to do?@murisopsis – As I understand it, show choirs are primarily a Midwest phenomenon.@turningreen – I always thought “show choir” referred to the fact that they prepare for shows (competitions) rather than the type of music they sing.  Perhaps I misunderstood.@Dezinerdreams – And, of course, sexual orientation has nothing to do with one’s profession, tastes, interests, etc.  Which is kind of what led me to the question at hand – when did liking to sing become gay?@ordinarybutloud – Alas!  An answer was what I needed… =(@CurryPuffy – It has focused heavily on that story line, it seems.

  6. Actually you came up with the answer to your question. Being a pilot is all pretty “macho” whatever macho in their eyes means. So Glee is gay to them. Not we have to try to understand what they consider what being gay really means

  7. Most of the songs covered in glee have this pop-genre quality to them… and when boys and pop music add together, the images of boy-bands (backstreet boys, n’sync, etc) come to my mind…and those were labeled as ‘gay’.  I don’t regularly watch glee, but there was this one episode where these two guys, in private school outfits, who were serenading each other on stage… I adds to the impression that ‘Glee is gay’. Overall… I think most haters of the show just are close-minded, and/or wish they could falsetto and sing as well as most of the people  onthe show.

  8. “None of these strike me as particularly effeminate.”Umm…. Why are you equating “gay” with “effeminate”? I don’t think it has to do with effeminacy, but rather with stereotypes about the performers. Pull together a group to sing popular songs as an ensemble, and the expectation is that a fair percentage of the male performers will be gay. Anecdotally, as a member of such an ensemble in middle school, high school, and college, that expectation wasn’t unwarranted. In fact, it was why many of us were there.

  9. i’m assuming that the reason most people would think the show as a ‘gay’ show is because the ‘type’ of music they often sing, which is more pop than anything else. people now a days consider ‘pop’ as more of a chick music, opposite from ‘hip hop’ for instance, especially in USA. in addition, the gay characters and gay-relationship story line that plays a part in the whole show, might also cause the show to get its ‘gay’ label. but in comparison to some of the tv shows in europe with much more gayness in the story line, glee is FAR from being a gay show. it’s a musical show. plain and simple. well, at least from what i observed by watching its first season. haven’t been following it since then.

  10. the only reason people view this show negatively or they set that tone is Ryan Murphy is a stupid Liberal. Its so freaking liberal I cant stand it. Worse than GodlessLiberal. But get this. FOX is a republican Network. the thing I hate is when the writers go overboard to the point where they have no idea what there doing. example “Grilled Cheesus” episode. I loved season 1 Season 2 made me sick to my stomach. it went beyond the arts and the reason the show is #1 Fox show ever. The season finale went back to its roots. I have hope for Season 4. I was in Show Choir. It hits home for me sometimes seeing misfits and my high school dayz minus the Gayness. Lame.

  11. @Tom Lockwood – Tom, I’m talking about commonly held stereotypes and, unless things have radically changed in the US in the past half-decade, “gay” is still often equated with “effeminate”.  In fact, several of the characters on the show (including Coach Sylvester and members of the football team) make jokes at the male glee club members’ expense that specifically tap into this stereotypical equation of gayness with being effeminate.@Devilzgaysianboi – @rudyhou – I must be very out of touch with pop music…@The_Eyes_Of_A_Painter – Well, I was trying to speak more about glee with a lower case “g” rather than the TV show itself, but I see your point.@Jeremy_Sheer – While I appreciate your recommendation and your comment, it would be nice if we can have a conversation that doesn’t involve calling names.  As for Fox being a Republican network, I think you’re confusing the news organization with the entertainment organization.  Fox has been the home of shows such as The Simpsons for two decades, hardly a staunchly conservative show.

  12. I have heard that too. Not just the choir and the music groups, but also the local community theater guys. They are always talking about, the gay effect of the whole scenario. Whatever.

  13. I watched Season 1 of Glee. I never thought that they associated Glee Club with gay (although there is a gay character in the show). Maybe I  missed the point somewhere? I know that the kids from Glee club was seen as “uncool” so the football blokes wold never want to be seen in Glee club.Anyway, I always wondered why it was not cool to be in Glee club. I never understood that and just put it down to American culture. Over in schools here, it is quite cool to be in Choir or Dance.

  14. @icepearlz – I think it is a reflection of American culture (or, perhaps, North American?).  In the second season they further developed the gay storyline with the footballers bullying the glee club students, calling them names and questioning the males’ masculinity.@jace1982 – Oh, I don’t think I ever watched that show.  “Geeky, but not gay” is a line I may have to find a use for.  LOL@Roadlesstaken – That’s the important thing, of course.

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