I fell into a black hole today. It started with Celine Dion. I was listening to Straight Talk with Ross, and they were talking about Celine, so I started listening to her songs. Then I remembered that Lea Michele covered a Celine Dion song early on in Glee, so I YouTubed it and fell into a complete abyss.
I’ve spent the better part of the afternoon watching old Glee clips, which is completely bringing me back to early high school, circa 2009, when everyone was totally drinking the Ryan Murphy Kool-Aid.
I stopped watching Glee about four seasons in, but I seriously watched Glee for the first three seasons at least. It really ushered me into teenagehood. Like, I learned about sex, “drugs,” cover songs, homosexuality, relationships and—most importantly—Barbra Streisand.
Glee released its first episode in the summer before my freshman year of high school, which I feverishly watched on my iPod Classic during a family trip to England. I watched it on FOX and Hulu, reading the blogs and Wikipedia pages over and over, buying every episode and putting it onto aforementioned iPod Classic. That dates me.
I actually forgot how much I fucking loved Glee until I started watching the clips again. I stopped watching after it veered off the path of “anthem for misfits” into “LET’S DO EVERYTHING” and I just couldn’t keep up, emotionally but also because I fell behind like two episodes and it was too much work to watch them.
I dug deeper into the Ryan Murphy Fantasia. The Glee Project. The New Normal. Both iconic shows that I watched unabashedly. I actually forgot that I had watched The Glee Project but I stumbled upon a clip of it and it all came flooding back to me. It on Oxygen and it was my oxygen. I’m not going to say I “repressed” watching The Glee Project, because if you bandy that word around too much, it becomes a Girl Who Cried Wolf situation, but I will say that I may have forced myself to forget about it.
But watching back roughly twenty clips in a row, I was sucked back into high school. I remember all of the old storylines, all of the drama. I remember Quinn being pregnant! I remember Rachel’s fiery ambition. I remember having pictures of Mr. Schuester stirring a curious hot-cold feeling in my chest.
But—sappiness warning—I also remember how not-alone I felt. I went back and actually checked the year of the first season—2009—because I wanted to know exactly how old I was in relation to the show. I was fourteen when it first started. I came out of the closet at fifteen. I can’t remember exactly, but Glee must’ve been the first representation of LGBT people on television for me.
I remember feeling like a loser, and watching these people who were treated like absolute losers—slushies thrown in their face and all—and feeling validated. I felt seen. This was before it became the clusterfuck it morphed into in later seasons, with a thousand-and-one storylines. When it began, it was smart and acerbic and achingly awkward and real.
Before it all became too much, it did something for me that I hadn’t had before. It celebrated me. It showed an effeminate young gay guy struggling with his sexuality; it showed him as a love interest; it showed him as smart and worthy and strong. I didn’t have that. I didn’t have any gay icons. I didn’t see anyone like me.
And now that it’s almost five years on from coming out, and I’m twenty, and I have accomplished so much, I forgot how much that meant to me back then. I have gained such a vocabulary for expressing myself, but I forgot how nice it was to be understood on that simple level.
I miss that simple magic of being gay and coming to terms with it. It has become more normal to me now, but I sort of miss the struggle and finding myself. Now everything is infinitely more complicated, and I miss the black-and-white-ness of life in 2009. It was questions of when to come out, what to do, who I had crushes on. My life has mutated into this fractious reflection, a thousand-thousand things happening all at once and everything is gray and shaded and multifarious.
I miss the rawness of having to fight against something solid and defined. I had a purpose; I was gay and had to come out; I had to navigate high school. Things are complex now. Things have nuances. And that’s beautiful too, but I miss settling in front of my computer, clicking on an episode of Glee and settling into a brief, forty-minute window of feeling completely understood. I had forgotten about that.
This post didn’t start out sappy and I didn’t mean it to turn sappy, but as I was doing more “research,” the more it all came flooding back to me. And I want to remember all of those things. The person I am today is so far from the person I was before I came out, but I feel like honoring him. He was a complete badass, and I don’t know how he—me—we—managed to make it through all of that bullshit and remain such a FLAWLESS FUCKING PERSON.
I ended it on a narcissistic note, which is the usual for me. Obviously it’s just a defense mechanism to avoid lingering on emotionally-soaked moments. I don’t know how to end this post. Bye, I guess. Thanks.