Some people have their hearts stolen by the people they fall in love with but almost six years ago, my heart was stolen by a musical TV show: ‘Glee’. Though it may sound totally ridiculous and cliche, I really would not be the person that I am today without the inspiration and love that my passion for Glee over the past six years has filled me with and more importantly, without the parallels between myself and Lea Michele’s character Rachel Berry that I identified many years ago.
I started watching Glee in May 2009 when the show first aired in the US after my aunt pointed me in the show’s direction. She knew all too well that I had a huge passion for the arts and a drive towards a shining career on the stage (even though I’d only just gone past my tenth birthday). I took to the internet with my new red laptop (which I’m writing this article on six years later), found the Pilot episode online, watched it, and instantly fell in love. I watched the episode religiously; this show literally took all of the hopes and desires I had inside of me and put them on a TV show. It was then that I saw myself in Rachel Berry; a young girl whose drive towards a career on Broadway replicated my drive scarily well. Everything about her represented the way I saw myself and it wasn’t long until I found the online community filled with other ‘Gleeks’ that shared the same passion for these characters as I did. When the Pilot episode was released on DVD in the UK, I used to watch it “literally over and over again – the DVD never came out of the DVD player” so my mum tells me. I remember when the first Glee album came out and my mum tried to hide it from me so she could give it to me for Christmas in 2009 but she gave in and let me find it in her wardrobe and listen to the whole thing once over – I literally sat in front of out HiFi in our flat and listened to the music exclusively from the first to the last track. I soon discovered that the singles that weren’t on the albums were on iTunes and my mum bought me a new iPod to put every single single that was released onto, along with all of my Broadway cast recordings. Glee fast became my life; it was like watching a Broadway show that I knew so well and loved so much every single week.
Glee also helped me to shape who I am as a person and even though it started with Rachel Berry (more from that later), it was Chris Colfer’s character Kurt Hummel that made the show so much realer for me. At 10 years old, I hadn’t opened myself up to the world of identifying my sexuality and I saw parallels in the way Kurt saw some of the men around him and how I saw some of the men around me. I soon realised that the way Kurt felt about people around him and the way I felt about people around me was so similar and it was this realisation that prompted me into working out sexuality and what mine really was. Without Kurt Hummel, I don’t think I would be anywhere near as open or aware of who I am from a personal perspective as I do today; I wouldn’t truly know who I am even though I thought I did and I certainly would not be as happy as I am today either.
However, it was one Miss Rachel Berry that has properly shaped the person that I am today. I walked into Glee’s pathway as a ten year old whose dream was to be on a Broadway stage and someone who would do absolutely anything to get to his main goal of eventually winning a Tony Award. On the screen in front of me, I saw a quirky young girl who was paving her way to doing exactly that. She knew every Broadway show backwards much like myself, she was bossy and self-confident (unfortunatly, also much like myself), and she was so well aware of her dreams and so driven to reach them (exactly like myself). As the show progressed, I watched Rachel grow and show me the way to reach my Broadway dreams: she got into the Arts college in New York she’d always wanted to go to, she landed her dream role in Funny Girl on Broadway and to top it all of, she won a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in the show’s finale last night; the show unexpectedly ended with my role model reaching my ultimate dream. Since day one, Rachel Berry’s life on screen has been a guide that I could read as she went on and did exactly what I’ve seen myself doing all my life and without the guide and constant reminder of what I’ve always wanted, I honestly believe I would only be a shadow of the person that I am today. Rachel Berry is my biggest role model and at times, I’ve almost referred to her as my bestest friend. Without her and Lea Michele who portrays her, I really wouldn’t know that everything I’ve always dreamed of is a dream that can become a reality.
I’ve seen myself in all of these characters and every single one of them has helped me work my way into teenage life right from a ten year old in the wake of his parent’s divorce, to a 16 year old who is reaching the end of his main-stem high school career. Thank you Glee for giving me so much joy over these past six years and for truly making me who I am today. I cry as I write this ode to you because I truly cannot believe that it’s time for me to spread my wings and fly from the nest but thanks to you, I now know exactly where I’m headed and for that, I thank you.