From the peak of its success in 2010 to its series finale in 2015, Glee has always been known as the show about a ragtag group of kids dealing with the ups and downs of a small public school in Ohio by banding together through a shared love for music.
However, on January 16, the show took on a more serious note when its character, previously known as Shannon Beiste (Coach Beiste), made the decision to do something he had been afraid to do his entire life: to be honest with himself and everyone else. This decision was not only a significant event on the show but also in broadcast television history.
During this significant episode, Beiste was shown in tears, telling character Sam Evans about his big decision. When Beiste returned on February 13, he announced that he now identifies as Sheldon Beiste. Although the members of McKinley High, including the cold hearted Sue Sylvester, welcome him with open arms, Beiste finds himself a victim of tormenting by the members of Vocal Adrenaline, the rival glee club from Carmel High. To teach the kids a lesson, Sylvester plans an elaborate performance with a group of transgender vocalists to show Beiste that he is accepted and loved by all of them despite what others might think.
This episode is important not only because Glee made TV history but also because it signifies how awareness for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning Intersex Asexual (LGBTQIA) issues has increased steadily. “If we are lucky, this will begin a common practice of telling the stories of an often minimized group. Recognition of transgender people’s existence and legitimacy is certainly a fundamental step [towards] trans* people being treated like human beings,” sophomore and Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) member Audrey Black said.
The majority of Hockaday students acclaim Glee for having Coach Bieste shown dealing with this difficult experience because it not only highlights the reality of the difficulty that comes with making such a big decision but also because it says something positive about the future, “Showing the realities of the lives of minorities in the media is important because it gives said minorities affirmation that they are seen and that they deserve to be seen.
“Showing the realities of the lives of minorities in the media is important because it gives said minorities affirmation that they are seen and that they deserve to be seen. It can also give the majority a sense of compassion for said minorities, leading to their humanization, and hopefully equal rights. Recognizing these struggles on a TV show can show trans people that they are not alone,” form IV student Katie Miller said.
Although many people are fully supportive of this ground breaking episode, there is still some controversy that has followed. Two anonymous sources expressed strong feelings of disapproval towards the episode. “Deuteronomy 22:5 says a woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God,” one source said when asked why she did not approve of the episode.
“I mean it’s different and sort of exotic, but we hold up these sort of people as a significant part of the population, when the majority of America will rarely see this,” an anonymous junior said.
Some viewers find the episode unsettling and unrelatable, “I understand it’s raising awareness, but I don’t think the majority of America, which is Fox’s viewers, can relate to this or find any meaning in it,” the anonymous junior said.
Regardless of the controversy behind the episode, there is no doubt that Glee took a huge leap in broadcasting history. For the first time in history, a character made the decision to be honest with themselves on TV, allowing Fox’s viewers all over the world to be a part of the experience. Glee’s leap symbolizes not only a more diverse future for television but also symbolizes a more open, accepting society in the years to come.
a significant part of the population, when the majority of America will rarely see this,” an anonymous junior said. Some viewers find the episode unsettling and unrelatable, “I understand it’s raising awareness, but I don’t think the majority of America, which is Fox’s viewers, can relate to this or find any meaning in it,” anonymous junior said.
– Heidi Kim