Homophobia almost made it so we didn’t have one of the most important gay TV characters of the 2000s. On the latest episode of former Glee stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz’s podcast about the show, And That’s What You REALLY Missed, they were joined by Kurt Hummel himself, Chris Colfer, who revealed that he almost didn’t take the role that would make him a star. “My hometown has come very far in the last couple decades, but when I was growing up there, it was dangerous to be out,” Colfer said on the podcast. “Kids would get beat up. On one occasion, someone got stabbed on their way to school. So being out and proud was just not an option” “So when I found out they had written this character for me, I was thrilled,” he continued. “And then, when I finally got the script was when I realized it was the gay character, and I was terrified.” Even after his family warned that playing a gay character “would ruin your life,” Colfer decided to take the role, not just to break into Hollywood, but also to help figure out his own identity.
“I just wanted to get out and be part of the industry so badly, I just knew there was no option. I also knew that it would probably force me to answer and ask questions of myself that I wasn’t quite ready to do,” he told Ushkowitz and McHale. “So, I’m actually kind of grateful for it in a way because I think it kind of pushed me into a path of honesty with myself.” Colfer also said that he related to another young LGBTQ+ actor who was forced to come out after playing a gay role. “There wasn’t much support for young gay people back then. The whole thing with Heartstopper, that absolutely broke my heart because, essentially, the same thing happened to me but 15 years ago. We were the same age,” Colfer said, alluding to Heartstopper star Kit Connor coming out after harassment from “fans” and trolls that he was queerbaiting by playing a queer role. “People were furious that it happened to [Kit I think that’s proof of how far the community has come,” he continued. “When it happened to me, it was very much ‘I deserved it.’ I was obvious, so, therefore, I have no reason to be upset about it.” It truly is a shame that young LGBTQ+ actors are still facing some of the same homophobic pressures from both Hollywood and fans that they were 15 years ago. As Colfer said, some progress has been made, but obviously, more is still to come.