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The Gay Legacy of 'Glee'

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When Glee ends its six-season run tonight with a special two-hour finale, its legacy will certainly be mixed. The show debuted in 2009 and became an instant phenomenon -- spawning hit singles, sold-out concerts, a reality competition series and a 3-D film. In the beginning, the fresh-faced cast and the delightfully wicked Jane Lynch drew praise for bringing Ryan Murphy’s twisted vision to life. It was a rare achievement, and still one of the only successful TV musicals of all time.

But even the freshman season was far from flawless. Wildly uneven tone and quality plagued the series, while tribute episodes and guest appearances weighed down the already cumbersome (and at times nonsensical) narratives. Glee could be great, but as the run soldiered on -- ushering its protagonists through graduation, college and beyond -- the great moments were further and further between.

What has been consistent, however, is the show’s celebration of individuality and commitment to its queer characters. Say what you will about the artistic quality of the work, but its impact on mainstream television cannot be denied.

See some of the reasons why Glee was a game-changer for gay teens on TV, AFTER THE JUMP

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Darren Criss, Chris Colfer and the Cast of 'Glee' Play a Raunchy Game of Cards Against Humanity with Ellen: VIDEO

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Glee stars Chris Colfer, Jenna Ushkowitz, Lea Michele, Chord Overstreet and Darren Criss stopped by The Ellen DeGeneres Show this week ahead of next Friday's Glee series finale to play a game of Cards Against Humanitywhich if you haven't played yet is basically just a raunchier version of Apples to Apples. 

The cast also sat down with Ellen to reminisce about the show's six years on air and discuss shooting an emotional scene in the last episode paying tribute to former Glee leading man Cory Monteith, who passed away from a drug overdose in July 2013.

Watch both segments, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Glee series finale airs March 20th at 8/7c on Fox.

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Gay Iconography: What You Said In 2014

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When I started writing Gay Iconography in late 2013, I hoped to explore why some celebrities and artists held mass appeal — not to be confused with universal appeal, mind you — within the gay community. Over time, what began as a light-hearted feature celebrating these stars with a few YouTube clips became a lightning rod of conversation and, shall we say, spirited debate.

The original premise, as stated in the early posts, was to “present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts.” The second half of the stated mission — asking you to weigh in with your thoughts — is what’s made it most interesting for me.

This year, the first full calendar year of the column, Gay Iconography has received more than 1,300 comments (and, yes, I read them all). I thought it would be interesting to look back at lessons learned from these conversations and see if we’re any closer to recognizing what draws some of us to these cultural cornerstones.

The conversation may not have always been nuanced (and, of course, it did occasionally devolve into name-calling and flamewars like any comments section on the Internet), but there have been some surprising revelations. For example, while I had expected some controversial choices like Queen Latifah and Donna Summer to be met with criticism, and I could have anticipated younger picks like Robyn or Frank Ocean to be easily dismissed, I was still surprised to see people deny the impact of, say, Cher, Madonna or Dolly Parton. There’s always room to debate the merits of any one individual, but it seemed at times as if some folks aimed to refute the existence of a unique LGBT culture to represent at all.

However, looking back over the comments from this year, some trends do start to emerge as to what some might consider a gay icon. See some of the most prevailing ideas perpetuated in the comments and let us know if you agree, AFTER THE JUMP

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Gay Iconography: Chris Colfer's 'Glee'-ful Impact

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Now that Glee has outlived its relevance, it’s easy to forget how influential Chris Colfer’s character Kurt Hummel has been. At one point though, Glee was one of the biggest television phenomenons in a generation, and Kurt was the most famous gay teen in America.

Since its debut, Glee has won Golden Globes, Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. It spawned an international concert tour, a feature-length film and even video games. The Glee cast has had more than 200 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. (That’s more than Aretha Franklin, The Beatles and Elvis.) To describe the series at its peak as merely a hit TV show doesn’t begin to describe the massive impact it left on the cultural landscape.

Sure the songs were catchy and the drama was soapy, but it was the show’s heart that endeared it to legions of gleeks worldwide. At its core, it was a story about outsiders, and no character better personified the series’ enthusiastic embrace of otherness more than Kurt. He became the new face of contemporary gay teens and provided a vessel to tell the stories of the “It Gets Better” generation. Even TIME magazine included him in their list of most influential people in 2011. His co-star Dianna Agron wrote:

“Chris ... lives by extreme truth, speaking out against the epidemic of bullying that he, too, faced in high school. The honesty that he infuses into his Glee character, Kurt, leaves you reeling. Our cast is blessed to hear things like ‘Your character has helped me through this, or helped me do that,’ but none more so than Chris. To witness the power he gives to his audience firsthand? It's wonderful.”

See some of our favorite clips of Chris in action, AFTER THE JUMP

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Chris Colfer Talks Sleep-Shopping, Hillary Clinton And Plays Charades On 'Tonight Show' - VIDEOS

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Glee actor Chris Colfer recently stopped by The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to discuss his Twitter account getting hacked, the publication of his third book, his drowsy purchase of suggestively shaped corkscrews and meeting Hilary Clinton at a book signing.

He also stuck around to play a rousing round of Charades with Halle Berry.

Watch his interview and the games AFTER THE JUMP…

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News: Episcopal Support For Gay Marriage, Rugby, Omar Sharif Jr., Gay CEOs

Jesus RoadAwesome counter-protest at Chicago Pride.

RoadA guy in Britain had his already well endowed member made girthier thanks to plastic surgery.

RoadChris Colfer tweets he was let go from Glee; reps then say his account was hacked and the actor will in fact be returning to the show.

RoadThrowback Thursday: TRL returns for one day only.

RoadThe Episcopal Diocese of St. Louis announces support for challenge to Missouri's same-sex marriage ban: "Bishop George Wayne Smith said in a statement that he 'supports St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and City Counselor Winston Calvert in their challenge to Missouri law prohibiting same-sex marriage. Even as the Episcopal Church works to clarify our theological understanding of and pastoral practices around same-sex blessings, I believe that it is not the place of the State of Missouri to deny the privileges and responsibilities of marriage to anyone, basing that denial solely on the gender of the couple.'”

RoadJessica Chastain played Juliet in NYC's Shakespeare in the Park.

RoadFault in Our Stars star Ansel Elgort to play gay pianist Van Cliburn in biopic.

RoadFirst official image of Henry Cavill as Superman in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Henry RoadPennsylvania High School won't allow production of Monty Python's Spamelot because play features gay wedding: "Dawn Burch, director of the school’s drama department, told WNEP news that Principal Jesse Smith wrote an email to her informing her that homosexuality does not exist in a conservative community such as South Williamsport. Smith did not respond to a ThinkProgress inquiry regarding these specific comments."

RoadApparently, there were some fireworks on the set of The Notebook. Hate and love are the closest emotions.

RoadAustralian rugby team Sydney Convicts are first gay team to play on professional level: “The Sydney Convicts are very excited and proud to be the first gay and inclusive rugby team to be invited to play as part of an elite level rugby match," [The president of the Convicts, Dave] Whitaker told the Gay News Network. “We hope this game helps to challenge these misconceptions while also raising awareness that homophobia in sport is still a major issue and gay people often still feel unwelcome.”

RoadHorrible Bosses 2 trailer released.

RoadOmar Sharif Jr. one of People's hottest bachelors.

RoadBrothers & Sisters alum and out actor Luke MacFarlane to play gay service-member on NBC's Night Shift

RoadRussian conductor Valery Gergiev, known for being close with Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Russia's anti-gay propaganda law isn't anti-gay: “It’s not anti-gay… Nothing to do with gay. It’s about propaganda in schools, in schools, what they call ‘non-traditional’. I don’t understand all these things; I also don’t understand the campaign [of protests against his performances].” He went on to claim that the impacts of the law are exaggerated by western media, saying: “I didn’t know about this law. I learnt about this law in the west. Nobody knows about this law in Russia because [the] law is never applied. No one is put in prison, no one is killed, no one is arrested. We have no idea what is this law in reality to do with our lives here. No idea. Nobody here is about this at all.”

RoadGay CEOs reluctant to come out? "'Of course there are gay CEOs and I reached out to many of them and got an extremely cool reception,' said New York Times columnist Jim Stewart on CNBC, 'Not one would allow to be named for the column.'"


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