Forgive me for using your birthday video as a confessional. A Facebook friend told me about this project and I wanted to let you know how much your work has meant to me and my family.
As a father, I try to stay aware of what my children are being exposed to. When my kids first started watching Glee, I was dubious to say the least. I was convinced that I would hate the show and even more convinced that I’d hate “the gay kid”.
Because, I will be honest, I was one of those guys. The ignorant, secretly bigoted kind who told myself that I was open-minded, but believed without reservation or consideration that gays were nothing but sexual predators looking to corrupt straight people. I would like to apologize for that.
A few episodes into Glee, my viewpoint began to change. I found myself rooting for the very character I had been so prepared to condemn. The father/son relationship I saw made me consider how I would feel if that was my kid. I kept watching, slowly becoming fascinated (much to my embarrassment at the time) by the progress of Kurt’s romantic journey. I was shocked by how much the innocent hope of his unrequited crush in the first season contrasted with the violent actions of that predatory closet jock in the second. And I was both amused and touched by the slow build-up of strong, honest love between Kurt and his Dalton boy. Those relationships proved to me that Kurt was just a boy, like any other, trying to get through the obstacles of his world and find real happiness. This was no predator. No stereotype of random promiscuity. He wasn’t a sad little doormat for the ignorant straights of the world to push around. Kurt was just a normal, if extraordinary, teenager.
I had to ask myself, who was I to put down a gay version of the kid I had been in high school? A boy who was pushed around for being a short, scrawny math-geek, who suffered God knows how many pointless crushes before meeting the love of my life, a woman I married right out of college and later fathered three beautiful children with?
Glee put my prejudice on shaky ground, and made me reconsider many things. You personally caused that prejudice to undergo an earthquake by being so open about who you are and so friendly and charming and shockingly “real” whenever I happened across you on a talk show or televised event.
The final nail in the coffin came this past weekend when Doug (my oldest son) and I watched the YouTube broadcast of “8” together. I felt like a fool as I watched my old arguments, not against marriage but against gays in general, get held up to the fire and burned away as the transparent tissue paper excuses that they were. Your performance in particular moved me, less for the words you spoke than for the vulnerability evident in your face and voice. For a moment, I wasn’t watching Chris Colfer or the character he played on that witness stand, I was watching my own son.
Which brings me to the important part of this letter. A day after that remarkable play aired, my son came out to me. He had been witnessing my slow transformation and, ironically, waiting for me to grow mature enough to accept the truth. I have, and my son and I both feel remarkably free.
Thank you for teaching this old dog a couple of new tricks and helping me to become worthy of the wonderful young man that I fathered sixteen years ago. I wouldn’t have done it without you.
Best Wishes and a very Happy Birthday to you.