I am a huge fan of the TV show Glee but a scene in a recent episode just took my breath away.
For a little background, the plot of this scene involves a gay teen (Kurt) and his widowed father (Burt) and the son’s football jock friend (Finn). Bert is a mechanic, very blue collar and is dealing with his son’s sexuality. Although he does not totally understand everything he has always been supportive.
The father has fallen in love with the Finn’s mother and has invited them to move to his home. This raises issues because 1) Kurt is attracted to Finn, though the feelings are not reciprocated and 2) Finn is uncomfortable with the attraction. Finn has also been dealing with some teasing from his fellow jocks, partly because of his friendship with Kurt and partly because they are both in the Glee club.
When Kurt learns Finn will be moving in, he does his best to try and accept that Finn won’t be attracted to him and works to redecorate what will be their shared bedroom. He doesn’t do the greatest job of making it comfortable for a straight football jock (indeed a gay friend of mine said it was too much for him). But at least he makes an effort.
Finn loses it, yelling at Kurt for his past flirting, his inability to understand and he uses the word faggy to describe the decor.
At this point Burt bursts into the room and gives one of the best speeches ever. He is angry and starts to yell at Finn while Kurt defends him, saying he didn’t take it as an insult. Burt tells Kurt that he didn’t take it wrong because he is young and still thinks people are good, then goes on to say:
BURT: You live a few years, you start seeing the hate in people’s hearts. Even the best people. You use the “N-Word”?
FINN: Of course not…
BURT: Yeah how about “retard”? You call that nice girl in Cheerios with Kurt, you call her a retard?
FINN: Becky? No she’s my friend, she’s got Down Syndrome. I’d never call her that, that’s cruel.
BURT: But you think it’s okay to come into my house and say “faggy”?
FINN: That’s not what I meant…
BURT: I know what you meant! What, you think I didn’t use that word when I was your age? You know, some kid gets clocked at practice, we’ll tell him stop being such a fag. Shake it off. We meant it exactly the way you meant it. That being gay is wrong. That it’s some kind of punishable offense.
I really thought you were different, Finn. You know, I thought that being in Glee Club and being raised by your mom meant that you were some, you know, new generation of dude who saw things differently. Who just kind of, you know, came into the world knowing what has taken me years of struggling to figure out. I guess I was wrong.
I’m sorry Finn but you can’t stay here, I love your mom and maybe this is gonna cost me her, but my family comes first and I can’t have that kind of poison around. This is our home, Kurt. He is my son. Out in the world you do what you want. but not under my roof.”
At the end of the scene, Finn slinks out while Kurt stands there in tears. For several weeks of episodes he had been dealing with the fact that Burt and Finn had been growing close, thinking that Finn was the son that Burt really wanted. But in the end he learned how much his dad really cared.
At the conclusion of the episode Finn stops a group of jocks from attacking Kurt, and gives a heartfelt apology.
It was a wonderful moment of tolerance, reminding us that there are just some words that should never be used. And as Burt pointed out most of us would never use words like the N Word or retard, yet we would use the word fag.
Something for us all to think about.
The scene can be watched herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCtF8QEC8hY