A New York drama kid to the core, Lea Michele has been surrounded by the gay community—particularly gay men—since childhood. Now, Lea counts stars (and out gay men) like Chris Colfer, Ryan Murphy and Jonathan Groff as some of her closest friends. What about gay men resonates most for Miss Michele?
“I don’t see anyone as being different than anyone else, whether you’re gay or straight or whatever—everyone’s the same. That’s how I was raised. I lived in New York my entire life. I worked in theater and I was exposed to tons of different types of people, and from a very young age there was never anything that was black and white for me. Everyone was always accepted and always around me ever since I was a little girl. I’ve just been really blessed to have great people in my life, and among them just happen to be people like Jonathan and Ryan—but not ‘because’ they’re gay. Just because they’re amazing people.”
I’m pleased but not surprised by Lea’s attitude her friends in the gay community; unlike some other young straight women, Lea describes them not as flamboyant accessories but as complex people in their own right whose interest in musical theater doesn’t relegate them to the role of “gay minstrel.” The gay community has been a serious source of support for Lea and the entire Glee cast. What does our support mean to her?
“It means so much. I was working for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always been in theater, and so the gay community—that was my world. That’s where I come from, and so it just feels like a part of who I am. To be where I am right now, and to still have that support and to still have that safety net, it really just means a lot to me.”
Jonathan Groff, Glee alum and one of Lea’s besties, is hustling in his new gay centered HBO dramedy Looking. Will Lea be making an appearance, preferably either as a. one fag hag to rule them all or b. a lesbian looking for lurvee in the cloudy gay city?
“First of all, I went to San Francisco when they were filming the show and I ate dinner with all the guys and with Andrew (Haigh), their director, and before anything I said to them, ‘You guys, let’s get me on the show,’ and then I watched the entire series because Jonathan gave me all the episodes… Once I saw the entire series, I emailed Andrew Haigh and I was like, ‘Look, I loved it before, but I love it even more now. You gotta get me on the show. I’ll do anything. Anything you want me to play, even if I’m in the background, I’ll do it.’”
Does that include playing a raging lesbo? Maybe accessorized by combat Docs, a black beanie, and half-empty pack of American spirits? “One hundred percent,” Lea assures the salivating masses. Lea banned personal questions—understandable considering her on screen and off screen boyfriend, Cory Monteith, tragically overdosed and died last summer. However, she did open up about Cory’s legacy as an ally and friend to the gay community.
“Look at the relationship between Finn and Kurt—how it grew over time, that they became brothers. There’s a really interesting episode where Kurt and Finn move in together, and (Kurt) decorates the room and Finn says the “f” word (“faggy”). Kurt’s father defends him and really kind of puts Finn in his place and, for me, that was such a pivotal episode for the show and just their relationship alone.”
A talent like Lea’s can’t be confined to TV for much longer. The proud diva is channeling another diva, Judy Garland, in the upcoming film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. She’s also releasing a memoir, appropriately titled Brunette Ambition, in May.
“It’s a really crazy story of how I went from Broadway to being on this television show, and how I was told so much throughout my life that I wasn’t pretty enough and I wouldn’t make it to television—all of these people telling me what I could and couldn’t be…The book really is about harnessing your tenacity, your drive and your ambition and getting to where you wanna be despite what people say you can or can’t accomplish.”
Lea Michele is prepping to go from big time to all star, but she won’t dismiss her Glee beginnings, or the impact she made on queer kids around the world.
“What I’ve always loved about Glee the most is that while we’re making people laugh—and while we’re singing and entertaining people—we are delivering a very important message and opening up people’s minds, even though they might not know it’s happening. I get letters from fans, parents and kids. Glee has really helped a lot of people, and I’m not just saying that. It really has… I’m so honored to be a part of a show that has made a big movement not only for the gay community but also for kids who just love music and have a passion for doing that. It’s opened so many doors for girls and boys that don’t look like everybody else—to make them feel beautiful in their skin no matter what they look like or where they’re from.”
What kind of lesbian do you want to see Lea Michele play? Glee returns tonight on Fox.