While I not-so-secretly suspect that large portions of last night’s viewing audience were only there to see the trailers for 3.05 (called “The First Time,” for anyone who might not know the basis for my suspicions) and to see if Fox would let a bunch of supposed teenagers sing about being drunk and having a menage a trois in the 8pm time slot, one of Glee‘s best recurring themes was also on display, and that was the rules for boys.
It’s most overt when Finn explains to Rory that “dudes don’t ask dudes to be their friends.” But that remark isn’t just about explaining America’s social habits to the over-eager, adorably scamming foreign-exchange student. Nope, it’s about defining the masculinity that all our male characters have to navigate. Without it as background noise — even if it’s arguably background noise we all know — the passing plotlines around Kurt, Blaine, Dave Karofsky, and the soon-to-be-introduced Sebastian don’t mean anything, not to gay audiences, but to the straight ones who don’t necessarily have a reflex to think about the world as they create it for us.
Finn’s speech to Rory, in fact, goes a long way to explain the friction between him and Blaine in the choir room, because that is not just about Finn’s insecurity and his desire to remain the glee club’s vocal leader and captain-type dude. It’s about Finn’s homophobia, which, no, is not gone, despite the fact that he loves Kurt and does truly see him as his brother.
Because Finn and Kurt’s drama didn’t entirely neutralize because Finn got over his generalized homophobia, it neutralized because Kurt became his brother and the incest taboo made Finn forget about his still existent homophobia as it applied to Kurt. He no longer felt fear of Kurt’s sexuality, because Kurt as sibling became more important to him — and more gross in a sexual context — than Kurt’s being gay.
Blaine, to a given extent, was probably shielded from Finn’s homophobia by that. We see them being friendly around the prom episode, and we have to assume that dealt with each other a lot over the summer. However, Blaine’s transfer removes the incest taboo shield when it comes to Finn’s ability to deal with homosexuality amongst his male peers. Blaine goes from just being his brother’s boyfriend to the dude Finn goes to school with, basically moving him out of the protection accorded to him by his pseudo-family status. And so, aside from the leadership/solo issue and Finn’s insecurity, what does Blaine do that upsets Finn so much? He spends all his time effectively asking everyone, INCLUDING OTHER DUDES, to be his friend.
That breaks the masculine (read: heterosexual) code Finn describes to Rory, and also amplifies the level of competitive threat Finn feels from Blaine, because part of the non-verbalized homophobia in play here, and in the passing plotline around West Side Story, is that gay dudes aren’t leaders, despite the way Blaine was first introduced to us at Dalton (but remember, Dalton was faerie land — not real, and only being reintroduced to provide us with more
faeries gay boys).
So here’s a place where Blaine’s ability to pass makes him more threatening to someone like Finn, rather than less, not just as competition, but in the context of Glee’s constant reminder of the fear of “the predatory gay.”
I expect this link between dude friendship rules, predation, and homosexuality are going to get an even bigger focus when Sebastian joins the narrative next episode. How will Blaine, who is so needy, respond to a gay man who works the passing and masculinity thing differently than he does, breaking the guy friendship rules that Blaine is often oblivious to himself?
How will Kurt (who is very aware of those rules, schooled in them as he was by Finn regarding not just himself, but Sam) respond to witnessing that? And, most importantly, how will their straight male friends interpret it?
Will it be about breaking the dude code? Will there be concern for friends who might be facing relationship drama? Or will they back away from what they will perceive as threatening predatory gay culture stereotypes they are not sufficiently insulated from by Kurt’s kinship with Finn because there are just too many other players involved?