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 …