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'Culturally Queer' Darren Criss Opens Up About 'Privilege' Of Playing Gay Role On 'Glee'

The actor, who identifies as straight, recently reflected on his upbringing in San Francisco and how it shaped his support of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as his cultural impact as Blaine opposite Chris Colfer's Kurt on 'Glee.'

Darren Criss and Chris Colfer on 'Glee'

Darren Criss said playing Blaine on the hit show Glee was "a f**king privilege."

During an appearance at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Criss, a cisgender male who identifies as straight, said that growing up in San Francisco helped him to embrace the importance of portraying a gay character on television and recognize the responsibility he carried in doing so.

When asked about being able to bring a same-sex relationship to a mainstream network, Criss responded:

"It was f**king awesome...."
"Nowadays, we just call it a relationship on TV."
"But to contextualize it, a gay relationship on mainstream Fox, that's a pretty cool thing to be a part of."

Criss was a part of the series for five of its six seasons as an openly gay student who ultimately ended up marrying Chris Colfer's character Kurt.

He continued:

"I have been so culturally queer my whole life."
"Not because I'm trying — you know, actually, I was gonna say not because I'm trying to be cool but I'm gonna erase that, because I am trying to be cool."
"The things in my life that I have tried to emulate, learn from and be inspired by are 100 percent queer as f**k."

Criss attributed his support of the LGBTQ+ community to his upbringing.

"It was in queer communities that I've found people that I idolize, that I want to learn something from."
"And I'd say that's a gross generalization, that's a lot of things and a lot of people."
"But I grew up in San Francisco in the '90s. I watched men die."
"There was an awareness of the gay experience that was not a foreign concept to me. So, it was a narrative that I cared deeply about."

He also shared that once he was cast, he only wanted to do the role justice.

"[I wasn't] like, 'I'm the man for the job.'"
"They hired me...They said, 'You're the guy,' and I said, 'Okay, I'm the guy, I will do my best. I will do my best to talk about it in the way I believe and a way that I'm passionate about.'"

Criss was excited to play the part because he knew the impact his storyline would have on people watching at home who rarely see themselves and their situations reflected on mainstream TV.

"In many ways, I'm glad it was me because it was a thing I really liked showing."
"It meant a great deal to me and it meant a great deal to other people."
"Because when people say they were affected by that show or that relationship, it's not because of me, it's because of that relationship on TV and the risks that people took to put that on TV."

Ultimately, Criss was grateful to be a part of something that not only opened the doors for other shows to portray same-sex relationships but also to open minds of people at home.

"It took the people watching it to have the aptitude for seeing beyond what was maybe given to them in other avenues of culture."
"People of all ages, all spectrums of awareness say, 'I didn't grow up with a show like that and it was a really meaningful thing for me to see,' and I go 'I didn't grow up with a show like that and that would've been very meaningful for me too.'"
"Regardless of the fact that I'm a straight kid. That has value."
"For anyone who's been an underdog, we all know, in any shape or form — sexual, religious, biological — it has value because there's going to be a lot of people who see that and say, 'Okay, I can now understand this in a context that maybe I wasn't able to before.'"

He finished:

"It was a f**king privilege, and I love talking about it and I'm so grateful I got to do it."

You can watch below.

WARNING: NSFW language

People on social media applauded Criss for his allyship and for embracing the queer community so passionately.




Very well said 👏👏👏

Thank you for being an ally!