Whew! It’s been a pretty spectacular year for Glee star Chris Colfer. In addition to winning a Teen Choice Award (for “Male Scene Stealer”) and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award (for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series”), being nominated for six other awards and appearing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, 19-year-old Colfer can now add a Golden Globe to his ballooning collection of accolades.

Winning for his breakout performance on the hit television series Glee of Kurt Hummel, Colfer plays an ever defiant high school student who is relentlessly bullied for being the only openly gay student at his school – smashed into lockers, verbally abused, clobbered by wads of food, physically threatened and in general humiliated publicly on a daily basis. But he is unwilling to back down; instead, he stands up to his tormenters, reaches out to those in positions of authority (his teachers, the principle) and maintains his cool, diva demeanor in spite of it all. In the wake of Colfer’s success, Vanity Fair critic Brett Berk described the actor’s role as “the show’s most complex and sensitive portrayal.”

Yet beyond his chic performance, what is so remarkable about Colfer’s success is his wide margin of popularity: far from a fringe talent, his star shining only so bright among those liberal enough to care, his success is widely recognized and mainstream. Featured on one of this seasons most popular television shows and preening in the spotlight of the Golden Globes, his success is an emblematic victory for the gay right’s movement, which, despite facing staunch resistance, has achieved some exciting triumphs recently in pop culture.

In his attempt to explain a dearth of gay actors in leading roles, Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh argues that “society still shows a prejudice against gay people,” and that “audiences still haven’t gotten to the point where they can suspend disbelief long enough to accept a gay person in a leading romantic role.” And though he has a point, and though progress has been frustratingly sluggish, Colfer’s success indicates that forays into the entertainment industry have been made, inroads laid – in addition to Glee’s smash success, there are several other shows on television appearing this year that feature LGBT content: another critically acclaimed television comedy, Modern Family, which features a gay male couple raising an adopted child, the widely popular Ellen DeGeneres Show, which features, of course, Ellen, the surprise success RuPaul’s Drag Race – the list goes on. And while these television shows do not always present the most constructive images of the LGBT community (though in some cases they do), they are – I hope – positive at least for giving any airtime at all to what was a previously closeted subject matter.


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Prejudice, of course, continues to persist, and full civil right’s equality remains yet a dream; nevertheless, actors like Chris Colfer – not to mention his hilarious co-star Jane Lynch, an openly gay woman who also won a Golden Globe – must be celebrated. Because it’s pop figures like Chris Colfer, an openly gay actor playing an openly gay character, who provide a flare of hope to all that are watching, a position of influence that Colfer himself recognizes – dedicating his award speech to all those still struggling against unwarranted hate: “Most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates who are constantly told “NO” by the people in their environments, by bullies at school, that they can’t be who they are or have what they want because of who they are.” He finished his spirited clarion call with a truculent, “Well, screw that, kids!”

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