There are also at least a few members of AE who think that if an actor is playing a gay character, he himself must be gay. I go with what the actor himself says. Yes, there are actors on other shows who have come out after playing certain characters. But seriously, on Glee? It's a show known to employ openly gay and lesbian actors, both regulars and guest stars.
This was about whether AE members considered Kurt and Blaine to be polarizing, and whether comments had gotten more heated over the seasons.
What I know about the characters and reactions to them comes from watching the show, reading AfterElton Glee recaps from season two on and articles there, a little bit of reading articles elsewhere, from seeing the occasional interview, and reading various people’s opinions and reviews online.
First off, I am taking certain statements the actors make at face value. They say members of the cast are friends. I believe that. They say which of them are gay or lesbian and which of them are straight, and I believe those statements, too.
I like the characters and what I know of the actors. If you don’t, read elsewhere to get shade.
There are a range of feelings for Kurt on AfterElton. There are those viewers who can empathize with someone who doesn’t pass as straight, a storyline that ran through a few seasons and was explicitly discussed on the show, and watch how he deals with that. There are those who think Kurt is a “minstrel show,” that he’s just a collection of stereotypes with no person there. I don’t agree with that. Personally, I identify with Kurt, though I’m far from being a teenager and I’m a woman. I just don’t identify with Rachel or the popular cheerleader girls.
There are fans who identify with Kurt and Blaine because of the homophobia they received. There are those audience members who agree with Finn (in “Theatricality” and several other season one episodes) that if Kurt tried harder to blend in that he wouldn’t have had so many problems.
It’s been made clear that Kurt identifies as a cis man. Kurt said to Burt, “I’m a guy, Dad.” (Late season one episode, perhaps “Laryngitis”) However, he would sometimes mix an article of women’s clothing in among his layers. “Fashion has no gender,” he said. (“Audition”) He liked to sing songs originally sung by women, often in the same key. There’s a range of opinions about his singing voice. I enjoy it, but not everyone does. It’s certainly distinctive.
Of those viewers who do root for Kurt, parts of season three were disappointing in some ways for some viewers because Kurt got discrimination specifically for being effeminate. He was contrasted against Blaine, who in some ways comes across as more “traditionally masculine,” and Blaine won where Kurt lost. It continued into season four, with Blaine getting the student council presidency. From what I see, Blaine gets things easily, and then afterwards sometimes questions if he really wanted those things.
Feelings seem to bleed into real life considerations about gay actors. There are several points here. One is whether roles are limited for an openly gay actor, particularly if one is perceived as effeminate. My opinion is: “less so than before,” since laws have changed and attitudes are changing. I am not an expert on Hollywood.
There seems to be general agreement from AE members that gay actors should certainly play straight roles if they wish, as they’ve been doing since Hollywood was in its infancy. There also seems to be some feeling from some that gay actors should be considered first for gay roles. It seems to me to be thoughts along the lines of not having a white actor in blackface, or a non-disabled actor playing a disabled character (referred to by some disability activists as “crip-face”). It doesn’t seem to be widely felt, but there are a few who seem to have that sentiment.
There’s definitely feeling that we’ve gotten over considering straight actors to be “brave” for playing a gay role, as the sentiment was a few decades ago. In some cases it seems to be helping straight actors to be better known than they otherwise would be, and in positive ways.
Blaine gets compared to Kurt a lot. He also sings a lot of songs originally sung by women, but in a lower key. I’ve seen the speculation that he’s a low tenor. The consensus seems to be that he’s no Freddie Mercury vocally, but he’s quite a performer. In canon, Blaine is considered to be one of the best singers, actors, and dancers in New Directions. It seems like he wants to be appreciated for more than his talent, but he’ll use it to get positive attention and to be liked. Blaine is known for having great charisma. That’s in canon, too.
Let’s look at the actor for a moment, who is wildly popular on AE, with some dissenting opinion. The popularity is not just among teenage girls. He’s playing a gay character, and he’s a great ally. There seems to be bleed-over from what Glee characters think of Blaine. The charisma and performance ability are still there. Some audience members are more critical than the characters are.
I saw the Hot 100 comments, some of which said, “He’s not hot!” That’s certainly a matter of opinion, and the majority opinion was that he is. Teenaged girls were blamed for him placing first. It wasn’t just teenaged girls, though I noted the sexism in some comments. I was happy to see there was no racism. A couple of AE members said they were happy someone Asian won. In the previous Hot 100, there was a comment or two about Pinoy pride.
From what I understand of what the actors want to do besides acting, Darren Criss likes to write music and songs, play a variety of musical instruments, and perform live. Chris Colfer likes to write books and movie scripts. The Glee actors support each other’s individual endeavors, and seem to be quite happy with each other’s successes.
Though the show sometimes pits the characters against each other, and there’s audience feeling about real life discrimination, which I’ve discussed some of, I like both characters. Glee puts examples of homophobia and effeminiphobia out to the general public, and shows that they’re wrong. It’s not just AE viewers who see that.