It strikes me that Finn is someone we all know all too well. He’s our friends. He’s the liberal establishment. He’s Obama, who says everyone should be treated equally, except when it comes to the law. He’s everyone in our world who says they’re behind us and then isn’t. Like most allies, he has his moments, but by and large, we risk disappointment when we rely too heavily on them.
Finn is the reality of the straight allies of the LGBT community (and the reality probably of the LGB allies of the T community too). He wants to be “that guy” who is totally cool but he isn’t. He says he doesn’t have a problem and tells others they shouldn’t have a problem with their friends being gay. After all, what is it? It’s nothing, right? Wrong.
Being gay (or L or B or T) isn’t nothing. It’s a pretty important part of us (especially while discrimination still exists so openly and widely it really does shape us) and it’s part of our identities. This is where our allies get it wrong.
I remember telling my brother I was going to the Toronto Pride Parade because I had a 9 hour stop over in Toronto on Pride Day. Great, right? My brother (atheist, lefty, treehugging brother) said, “I don’t know. Why can’t you guys just be more normal in the parades? It would make people like you better.”
And watching Episode 1×20, I heard Finn say the exact same thing to Kurt.
Why don’t you just try harder to blend in?
I don’t know that I ever answered my brother’s query thoroughly. I was pretty shocked at the time that he would say that. After all, he’s my only family member who is supportive of me as a gay person. But I think we can forget that our allies are not us. They haven’t experienced what we have. They’ve never had to come out. They haven’t been terrorised by their culture. They don’t have our fear or anxiety or our triumph. They don’t understand living in a world where the validity of one’s identity is discussed on national television, talk shows, sit coms, and musical comedies as part of a culture war.
The answer? Why don’t we just try to blend in?
Because it’s not me. Because the world has already rejected part of me, why should I make the rest of me pleasant for them? And you know what? You blending in is probably not you, either. Only you’ve had acceptance and acceptance is more limiting than rejection. In rejection, you have no reason to conform. Nothing to lose. In acceptance, you fear its loss always.
Kurt was standing tall, being himself for the world to see because he knew that the one thing he couldn’t pretend away was the one thing he would be judged on anyway. Finn, on the other hand, was so terrified of losing what he had that he was unable to stand up for his friend. He was unable to prevent himself lashing out in a way he knew would cut the deepest. Kurt acted bravely and Finn acted out of fear.
You could see this especially when Kurt went to help remove Finn’s make up with a baby wipe. Even with all the flirting, etc behind it, his reaction was extraordinarily strong. He could have asked for the baby wipe so he could remove it himself. He could have asked Kurt to give him more space, but instead he leapt to his feet and left.
Sure, blend in. Become more afraid. They don’t like it when you stand up, brave.
Enter Burt Hummel, who shows us the best of our friends and allies. He doesn’t compromise. He takes no prisoners. He’s the dad we all wish we had, and he’s an example of how our allies can be: those who are truly proud of us, not those who like us but are secretly ashamed.