BY ROB SALERNO – Like a pimple just about ready to pop, the “Santana’s a lesbian” plot-line came to a big ugly head on last night’s Glee, as Santana dealt with being outed in a Congressional campaign
by coming to terms with her sexual identity, confronting her family and reestablishing her relationship with her girlfriend by being sang at by various members of the two glee clubs.
Now, I generally think the show’s goal of making sure that all its viewers know that gay people are okay and deserve love and affection is laudable, but I was pretty horrified by how this episode repeatedly presented being gay as something that straight characters react to instead of the lived experience of one of its main characters.
From Rachel’s early admission that she was scared to go to college in New York without her “best gay” Kurt to the announcement that the glee club’s assignment of the week was to sing songs by women so that Santana would feel better, it was like the gay kids just exist in the show as set pieces around which the other characters dance.
At least Santana realized the absurdity of the “Make Santana feel less isolated by singling her out and singing about how messed up her life is now” assignment. I also cringed through Kurt and Blaine’s rendition of Pink’s anti-suicide song “Perfect,” and I’m glad the writers didn’t try to sell that on its face.
Finn seems to be so worried that Santana will commit suicide that he makes an oblique reference to Jamie Hubley and Jamey Rodemeyer before mumbling a maudlin version of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at her. Points off for that, Finn. “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was written by a man.
The worst scene of the episode came when a previously never seen sophomore football player finds Santana and offers to take up the “challenge” of “straightening” her out. This leads the entire female cast to tell the dude to bug off because being gay isn’t a choice and lesbians don’t just exist to titillate straight guys. They do this by singing Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl,” which is a song about straight girls teasing lesbianism to titillate straight guys.
Fun fact #1: This isn’t the first time Glee has tackled this song, although in the pilot episode it was mostly for laughs.
Fun fact #2: This isn’t Perry’s most homophobic song. Before she became the poster child for It Gets Better, she had a song called “Ur So Gay (And You Don’t Even Like Boys)."
Anyway, this sequence mysteriously makes Santana feel better, even though it’s an example of all the discrimination she’s going to face for the rest of her life. At the end of the song, she announces that she’s already come out to her family and everything was okay, which, what? That’s a pretty major event in this story and the writers decided to do it off camera? I guess Santana’s story doesn’t really matter at all unless the boys of New Directions can mumble intently about it while the girls gyrate.
Okay, there’s also a fairly well-written but ultimately meaningless scene where Santana comes out to her grandmother, who kicks her out. But since we’ve never even heard of this character before and it’s not like Santana doesn’t have other family, it’s hard to see why I’m supposed to care all of a sudden.
Actual lesbians appeared in the soundtrack, with Puck rocking a pretty great acoustic cover of Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” and Santana and Shelby pulling off a solid duet of kd lang’s “Constant Craving.”
Two weeks ago, I wrote, “I also hope they can find a new direction for
Santana rather than having
her turn her bitchiness up to 11 in order to protect herself while
hate-singing “I Kissed a Girl” at the male members of New Directions.”
There’s still some time on this storyline to work that out, but it’s becoming a big mess the deeper it goes.
One final thought: why does no one seem to care about Brittany being a lesbian?