Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 434–448 | Cite as

Sexuality and Teen Television: Emerging Adults Respond to Representations of Queer Identity on Glee

Original Paper

Abstract

Academic scholarship on teen television programs indicates that images of queer sexualities can strongly impact the identities of emerging adults. Yet what is missing from this body of scholarship is an in-depth examination of how these representations are incorporated into the identity projects of the emerging adults who watch these shows. This study fills this gap by examining qualitative interviews with emerging adults who watch Glee. The participants consistently and overwhelmingly identified Glee as representing “progressive” emerging adult sexuality. Within that, three key themes emerged. First, identifying with Glee is a gendered practice. Second, Glee fandom aligns with an affinity for musical theater, which is traditionally considered a mirror for gay culture. Finally, while viewers recognized queer narrative content, it did not produce a broader acceptance of non-heterosexual identities. Viewers normalized their own (real, straight) identities in relation to the (fake, queer) identities shown in the narrative.

Keywords

Teen television Glee Sexuality Sexual identity Queer Emerging adulthood Adolescence Music 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the students of CNU Interviewing 316 (2010 and 2012) for their assistance in collecting and transcribing data for this project.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CommunicationChristopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA
  2. 2.Department of CommunicationUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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