A couple of years ago at Christmas I stumbled across a version of Baby It's Cold Outside that made my heart jump. I had heard of the show, Glee, but I hadn't watched it at all. I had seen some of the videos because (like with this) I happened to be looking for a song and stumbled across the Glee version. Frankly, most of them are great versions. When I saw two young men singing this song together, flirting, it felt right in a way that I can't express.
I had no idea if this was staged separately from the show, if there was truly a gay couple on the show or what was going on. It didn't matter and I didn't look into it any further. I just enjoyed it.
This year I was surfing around aimlessly again on the internet and I stumbled across a version of Cough Syrup by the Glee cast. I suppose I had known that they had a version, but I hadn't paid attention to it much. It's kind of a pointless song, really. At least, I don't seem to understand any deeper meaning. It seems like somebody crying out against the inuit of American suburbia.
But, the Glee version is different. When I saw it a few weeks ago I was captivated. I watched it several times, then I searched out and found the entire episode and watched that. The music and passion behind it is perfect for a scene like this, and music does have a way of touching us like nothing else can, doesn't it? In their world, a young man – apparently an athlete – who had been in the closet has been outed. Somebody graffitied his locker; other guys were standing around menacingly when he saw it. He rushed out, rushed home, but he was taunted online and on social media. The end of the song shows him – having cried and struggled – dressed in a suit and about to commit suicide.
Spoiler alert, in the full episode it is revealed that he was not successful, that his father saved him in time.
I think that waxing nostalgic too much is a danger, for me particularly. And, it's an odd choice of words, but I believe that it is apt, so I'll leave it. I run the risk of being the old man shaking his fist at the young brats who are on his lawn, but it seems to me that high school today is very different than when I was in school. I won't say that it's easier; we still hear about kids being tormented and bullied to the point of suicide. But, when I was in school, the thought of being openly gay didn't even cross my mind. That was not available in the universe. From what I've seen (and a bit of what I've read, like this) kids are coming out and being openly gay in high school or even middle school. I would not have seen a happy young gay couple on TV when I was that age. There wasn't a place for us then. We had no model.
And, his committing suicide – that struck home. It resonated in a place in my soul that I had all but forgotten about. In most ways it is good that I have forgotten. The oppressive loneliness and depression that was my young-adulthood is something that nobody should go through. It does, however, allow me to relate to the kids who are being cyber-bullied now. Maybe we didn't have cyber when I was that age, but we had bullies and we had loneliness.
It wasn't just being gay in a straight world that led to all of that, though it certainly didn't help. My father raised us in an atmosphere that could best be described as a cult. When children are kept from socializing and made to believe that others are bad or inappropriate, it puts a huge wall up between them and society. The thing is, the kids often don't know that the wall is there, or that there is anything on the other side. Running away only makes sense if you have a reason to believe that there is something different out there.
Listening to Cough Syrup sung by the character Blaine (who is one of the two singing Baby It's Cold Outside) did resonate with me. The song transported me back to a sad time, but that was also a time of intense longing. I had a crush on a guy and I was so very torn apart. I was sad, I was in love, I wanted to tell him, but I didn't want him to hate me any more than I was sure he already did. I walked around outside all hours of the night, up and down the grassy knoll behind our apartment. Especially when it was getting cold in the fall. I was sick to my stomach with longing, but I felt... alive. With the cool air on my face and my heart tied in knots I felt alive like I haven't felt in years. Listening to Cough Syrup reminded me how overwhelming life can feel, how overwhelming feelings can make life. I don't want to feel sad again, or insecure or lonely, but do want to feel that alive again. I want another chance to feel all of that emotion, that passion, and have a better understanding of how to direct it.
I learned this evening that Blaine and Kurt were, indeed, an item on Glee. Ain't that some shit?