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.


Harry Swings in New Orleans… er, Bangkok

Monday evening, St. Patrick’s Day, we enjoyed a huge treat.  Harry Connick, Jr. and his big band came to the City of Angels to perform in support of his “My New Orleans” tour. 


There were twelve of us in attendance and we preceded the concert with dinner at the Zen Food Loft.  Tawn’s friend Fuyuko joined us – a too-rare pleasure, above – and in Ken’s absence we celebrated Chai’s birthday which is on Wednesday.  I brought a candle and a lighter in my bag and then we put it in a slice of cake and sang “happy birthday” for him, below.


As for Mr. Connick, the 41-year old singer, pianist, and actor was making his first visit to Khrungthep and brought two of his three daughters with him.  At one point near the end of the show, he called them onstage and did an impromptu interview, asking them  about their impressions of the city.  Both said it was their favorite place on the tour.

Harry Connick Mr Connick’s band is straight out of the Big Easy and many of the numbers they performed were classic jazz with a Dixieland flavor.  Lots of brass, lots of improvisation, and everyone in the band was having a good time.

To top it off, in addition to being a talented musician and vocalist, Mr. Connick is a true entertainer.  He interspersed songs with lots of self-depracating banter, knew a little bit about the local culture – the band even performed one of the popular jazz songs His Majesty the King had composed, and generally clowned around. 

Early in the evening, his right contact lens came out and he proceeded to use the lens of one of the cameras as a mirror while putting it back in.  Of course, that camera’s view was the one showing on the big screens so we saw a closeup of all this.

Afterwards, he joked that he had used the same hand to put in the contact lens, as he had used just before the show to pick the hot peppers out of his pad thai noodles.  For several minutes there was an ongoing joke about him crying from only his right eye because he was only half sad.

It was a very fun time and the audience, seated in the Bangkok Convention Centre at Central World Plaza in a layout that was more appropriate for a business meeting than a jazz concert, warmed up appreciably as the night went on.  By the finale of the concert, people were literally dancing in the aisles.

Even thought security checked for cameras, as usual they didn’t look very hard.  Here are two short clips – 1:08 and 0:36, respectively – from the encore, just to give you a flavor of the concert.

Hope you enjoyed the show!