Glee: The fine line between being a guy and talking “guy”

What’s a blogger to do when 16 and Pregnant is over for this season? Discuss Glee, of course. And not discussion of its songs or dance numbers, but the topics it sheds light on. Last night, the topic that most struck me was the relationship between Kurt and his father.

Kurt — the only openly gay main character on the show — often has funny one-liners or is drooling over Finn, but last night we got to see the struggle that is likely common in a lot of households: the struggle between parent and child to form a connection or bond; in this case, the struggle between a straight, masculine father and his gay, feminine son.

The dichotomy has been addressed on the show before, as his father was more proud of him than ever when Kurt was a kicker on the football team. But on last night’s episode of Glee, the tone was more serious, as Kurt tried to get his dad and Finn’s mom — both who were widowed — to start dating in order to get closer to Finn. The plan backfired, however, as Kurt’s dad took an interest in Finn that he had never showed in Kurt before.

Kurt’s dad and Finn were able to talk sports, which hurt Kurt because he has never been able to have that kind of relationship with his father. What really stood out was when Kurt’s dad commented that he knew it had offended Kurt, and he said that it was “just guy talk” and Kurt replied, “I’m a guy.”

The line is powerful — Kurt’s father assumes there is this understanding between himself and his son that involve “guy things” — e.g. sports — and “non-guy” things — like singing and dancing. This is interesting (1) because Finn is also in Glee Club and therefore is also interested in a “nonguy” thing and (2) Kurt’s father is admitting that he doesn’t view his son as a true “guy.” It’s not that whatever guys talk about is consequently “guy talk,” it’s that there is a predetermined set of topics that are socially deemed masculine.

I was glad to see this topic discussed because Kurt’s homosexuality is often thrown into the shows in a comedic light — but for Kurt and likely many gay men, there is nothing funny about not being able to form a bond or connection with your father. And for Kurt, whose mother died eight years ago, his dad is his only parent. Though his dad has shown support by coming to his musical events, Kurt yearns for that true interest and father-son bond that comes out of interest rather than obligation.

And though Finn also sings and dances, his masculinity is confirmed by his interest in sports. He is still a true “guy” in this regard — what about the guys, of any sexuality, who aren’t interested in those typical “guy” things? They often have to constantly overcompensate or prove their own masculinity to fit in with “the guys.”

This episode shows the difference between sex and gender — biologically, Kurt is a man (we assume he isn’t transgender or intersex). But socially, he is not considered a man — his gender is not entirely male because he doesn’t take interest in the things that society deems “masculine,” such as sports.  

At the end of the episode, Kurt thanks Mercedes for singing “Beautiful,” which is an acknowledgment that Kurt has been feeling ugly for not meeting up to the expectations of a true “guy.” He obviously yearns for his father’s acceptance, and it’s tough to watch his dad so easily and eagerly accept Finn while Kurt has been trying his entire life to become close with his father and gain his acceptance.

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