I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts on “I Kissed a Girl”, because there have been so many people with so many feelings, and on one level or another, I agree with everyone.
If you’ve been reading for any length of time here, you know that I see Finn as the well-intentioned but ultimately fail-ally. These people exist in all our lives, and yeah, we still love them (for a while anyway). They’re our family members and friends and even partners sometimes. Finn seems to truly want to help, but doesn’t know how, and he struggles with a lot of his own insecurities that make being an ally so much harder. So yeah, the way he went about “helping” Santana in this episode was oh, so wrong, and misguided, but in many ways, he was right.
Santana didn’t have a choice when it came to coming out (and yeah, that’s Finn’s fault, but her consequence). She was being outed. Finn wanted a chance to build her up before the world had a chance to drag her down. Even if he wanted to (and I’m sure he did) he couldn’t un-out her. What he could do is try and be a friend, which he did.
Narratively, I found it clumsy, and I have to wonder, as I often do, how intentional the clumsy and cheap feel of Finn and Santana’s narrative was. Because, yeah, the It Gets Better suicide reference felt cheap and too easy, and maybe it is cheap and too easy for a straight, white, cis guy to talk about. And him singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun felt cheap and silly and like overly emotionally maniuplative pablum. And maybe it is, but Santana’s a baby gay. Maybe that’s what she needed.
The first person who came out to me was a very close friend. He and I shared a lot of similar dreams and values. We remained close after he came out, but I was a bit of a dick (love the sinner, etc). And I was older than Finn (but less aware, because I didn’t have a queer step-brother, or any of the general awareness teens have now) at the time. He didn’t seem to mind though, and I was able to support him through something I didn’t understand and we were happy enough. I ultimately became more aware because suddenly, it was me too. Would I have learned otherwise? Unknown.
When I first came out, I had a friend who I knew, deep down, disagreed with gay rights. But we were friends, and honestly? She was there for me when I needed her and, for a while it worked. Years later, I cried when she turned down an invitation to my wedding, and gave her reasons that I’d always known. She is no longer a part of my life, but at the time, her acceptance meant the world to me.
Some fail-allies grow, and some don’t. We don’t know which way Finn will go yet, although I’m pretty sure it has to go the way we hope it will.
I found it jarring how negatively Santana responded to the two actual gay people sharing their story (“F*cking Perfect was a real It Gets Better/let’s all share our coming out stories shoutout) but yeah, maybe that makes sense too. Because Santana is nowhere near ready to see that far into her future. What she sees right now is the beginning of Kurt’s gay story, and that part is awful. When she looks at Kurt she sees slushies and Prom Queen and easy jokes that everyone laughs at and hurt. Sure it gets better — but it doesn’t start better.
Santana didn’t hear perfect; she heard mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood.
And to answer a question posed to me a few minutes ago: Glee, either intentionally or otherwise, makes a really interesting point about the It Gets Better Project and the like. And it’s one that has been on the margins of the whole thing as long as it’s existed — that it getting better isn’t really enough. There are things that matter more right now. Like our friends — imperfect friends, as they are and we are — just accepting us and making an effort. Coming through even if they don’t have a clue (we don’t have a clue either when we’re coming out, usually).
The panicked 14 year old doesn’t need to watch 35 year old me talking about being happily married, he needs someone in his life right now who will stand up for him no matter what. And Santana just needed a friend. Finn was there, even if he was there in awkward and flailing ways.
These are not my last words on this episode, just the last for tonight.