Like Carlson, I care about what my kids watch. I don’t want my children exposed to images or ideas that would influence them to be mean or cold or desensitized to violence and its consequences. I likewise don’t want my daughters to pick up any notions from the media that they have to be skinny or sexy or downplay their intelligence to be liked.
But I don’t believe for a second that gay and trans kids are trying to ruin anybody’s Tuesday evening musical entertainment with an agenda of indoctrination. They’re not trying to entice America’s little boys to put on dresses. Good entertainment is just about understanding the human condition, about empathy for characters whose lives and experiences may be just like ours, or completely different from them. I’m about as non African-American transgender male teenager as it gets, and I can honestly say that having one on television poses exactly zero threat to my family or the identity of any member within it. “Glee’s” Unique isn’t out to change your kids or mine. Unique is just a fellow human being, with dreams and disappointments and dignity, whose boogie shoes just happen to be silver, and very, very high.
First, I want to take Salon to task — in no way did Bill O’Reilly or Fox insist that watching trans characters on Glee would make kids trans (using words like “imply” may weaken a headline, I know). There was quite a lot of screaming about experimenting, and you know what? Despite their fear mongering, they’re probably right.
Watching gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens on television will make children more open to the possibility that they might share these identities. And you know what? THAT’S FUCKING FANTASTIC.
It means kids will figure things out earlier — fewer people getting divorces when they figure out at 30 that they’re in love with their best friend. Fewer people who end up caught in their girlfriend’s clothes and shoes and makeup and the screaming and explaining and shrinks and the hurt and the confusion. Fewer people who don’t know how to respond to their friends and family members and lovers when they tell them their truths. Because even if Joey watches Glee and ultimately realises he is straight and cisgender, if he’s explored the possibility that he’s not, he’s going to be much more understanding of those who reached other conclusions. And if Noah watches Glee and understands she’s allowed to be Nora, that’s pretty fucking awesome too.
And speaking of letting kids watch Glee. I was babysitting my 3 year old nephew the other morning, and while we were watching cartoon after cartoon of his white heroes, I grew frustrated that he wasn’t seeing any heroes with his skin colour. So I switched on Saturday Night Glee-ver, fast forwarded through the sex-tape bits, and watched him boogie down to Disco Inferno and Boogie Shoes.