“Glee,” “Hand aufs Herz” fans demand more from lesbian TV storylines and get it


Santana’s struggle to come to terms with her own sexuality and admit her feelings for her best friend were two of the most authentic, narratively cohesive storylines in the history of Glee. (The other ones, awesomely enough, involve Kurt.) Falchuck is on record as saying the writers experienced plenty of trepidation about making Santana a full-on lesbian.

Pragmatically, Glee relies on its hetero-orgy to keep most fans plugged in, and outing Santana effectively takes her out of the game for every male lead. The writers will either have to explore her romantic relationship with another female lead — thereby taking her out of the hetero-orgy as well  or they’ll have to introduce a new lesbian character for Santana. Also, of course, Glee has already taken quite a beating for its purported Gay Agenda, and outing Santana only reinforced that particular conservative battle cry.

But into the darkness like God creating the universe you spoke Santana’s lesbianism into existence.

Ten years ago, you might have squealed and clapped your hands about Brittany and Santana, but Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk would never have heard you. Oh sure, maybe they’d have heard about you, — a whisper of an echo from some fan forum or other. But it’s 2011: Facebook and Tumblr and especially Twitter turned your voices into a collective roar. Subtext wasn’t enough. Titillation wasn’t enough. You insisted that Glee writers do the thing properly — and, at your behest, they did.

Here’s something equally awesome to think about: Maybe you don’t watch Hand aufs Herz or Glee, but that doesn’t mean you didn’t take part in these revolutions. Did you watch Skins? Because Naomily was an inspiration for the HaH creative team. And did you watch Buffy? Because Buffy was inspiration for Skins. For years and years, lesbians have been building fandoms on top of fandoms: Buffy on the shoulders of Xena, Skins on the shoulders of Buffy, Hand aufs Herz on the shoulders of Skins. No matter where on the space-time continuum you hammered and nailed, you were a part of building a better now.

I know what you’re thinking: OK, maybe we changed things for fictional TV characters — but does that really make things better?

You bet your plaid button-ups and Converse All-Stars it does!

Years and years of research prove that knowing a gay person is the number one thing that influences straight people’s opinions about gay people. A straight person who knows a gay person is more likely to support marriage equality, to take a stand against hate crimes, to offer time and financial support to LGBT causes and charities. And in our media-saturated world, knowing a gay TV character is tantamount to knowing a gay person.

One thing historians love to do is untangle the threads of a thousand effects to try and determine a cause. One day, not too terribly long from now, LGBT equality will be a very real thing. Oh, we have battles left to fight. We have tears left to shed. We’re going to get wounded some more, beaten down, kicked back, oppressed, repressed and spat upon. But a day is coming when historians will start untangling the threads of the gay rights movement, and this moment  this one right now, right here — is the place where the end of hate begins. In his “Gay Agenda” column at the beginning of May, AfterElton.com editor-in-chief Michael Jensen wrote: “The final battle might not yet be over, but it’s really hard to not believe that we’ve won the war.”

Why? Lots of reasons. Decades and decades of lots of reasons. And here is one of the main ones: You’re making it better. You really, really are.

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