So, I’ve spent a little bit of time here, and a lot of time over on Tumblr saying I’m not going to talk about 3.05 until it airs. I’m not going to speculate about the structure of the ep, the deflections I think are present in the trailer, the various concerns about the introduction of Sebastian, or even the significance of the episode even existing.
And then today was a sea of spoilers as various journos tweeted as they watched screeners and everyone flipped out. Me included.
And that’s when I realized that to write about 3.05 well, or to talk about the other topics I talk about here, I actually need to get some of my 3.05 anxiety off my chest. But that anxiety isn’t about the episode, that anxiety is about me.
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that I was originally deeply resistant to Glee in part because I find high school shows hard. I wasn’t a beautiful loser in high school, I was just a loser, and while I’m over the spectacular disaster of my 20s, there’s a lot of shit that happened — or didn’t happen — when I was sixteen that I’m not, and I just want to get some of this out there.
Because it’s mostly personal, not analytical, and may be more than you want to know about me (although it is resoundingly non-graphic), I’m forcing you to click to get the rest of the entry. But it’s not just about my life, it’s about how this episode of Glee is a case of anxiety being the mode through which all us fans are inserting ourselves into the 3.05 narrative, and why anxiety is probably, actually, the most logical emotion for that activity, no matter how unpleasant it may seem.
I didn’t lose my virginity until college. I couldn’t tell you when exactly, but I remember sitting on the couch in my dorm freaking out at my friend Rob about how I felt like there was supposed to be some green glow of illumination that would mysteriously tell me when the time was right. “There’s no green glow,” I shouted as we watched the first Gulf War on TV. “Everything I’ve ever been told is a lie.”
And that never really stopped. Intercourse was initially painful and awkward for me, the long-term boyfriend (who was not Rob, but a friend of ours) was patient and decent about the whole thing. The loss of my virginity was a process, not an event.
And let’s remember, I’m also queer, and so the idea that some acts counts more than others and involve gender requirements is complicated, upsetting and aggravating — it’s been why the “who’s the top?” conversation in Klaine fandom has galled me even as I’ve had to step back from my horror as spoilers about condoms have at least made it seem like penetration is the order of the day here. But note that no asks these details about Santana and Brittany’s sex life; you get that what they do is fucking too, right?
When I broke up in a way that was really shit with the boy I lost my virginity to (I met an older man; it was exciting), he sent me a letter about how he would never have sex with another virgin. It was so awful being with me, all that pain and fear and inadequacy, he said. He said he was glad I left him.
It was just us flinging hurt at each other, but it was awful, and I’ll never forget it.
All that, of course, was over twenty years ago. Since then, I’ve had a lot of sex with men and women, a few of whom by some measure or another could be said to have lost their virginity to me. And I’ve been lucky with sex – not getting hurt, not getting sick, generally getting off, and not really even creating that much drama even when I made incredibly stupid decisions (like I suspect Blaine is, I was very much a boy who couldn’t/wouldn’t say no for a long time).
But losing my virginity sucked. Not because it was awful, but because it wasn’t a neat, well-structured story like on TV. It didn’t have a beginning, middle and end. There wasn’t a clear moment of change or initial awe. There was no blinding green flash of illumination, and there wasn’t certitude. There wasn’t even a specific occasion to remember, although I think U2’s “Acrobat” was playing in the background, which tells you everything you have ever needed to know about my melancholy soul.
And I am freaked the hell out about episode 3.05, not because I’m worried about the content of the episode, or my favorite TV couple, or the reaction that gay teens having sex on TV is going to get from the mainstream media. I’m freaking out because anxiety about sex in general and the loss of virginity in particular is what we do in America. Our fannish anxiety about this moment in Glee is how we enact the moment in our own lives — whether we’re virgins now or haven’t been in decades.
Our collective stress is shockingly on point in its participatory nature. Fandom is, of course, a participatory culture. We have to find a way in. It’s compulsion and it is air. It’s how we can be in the room with the characters, when really they are just in the room with us — on our TV’s and in our thoughts.
The anxiety that so many of us are asserting is unpleasant or unavoidable regarding 3.05, is really neither. It’s just anticipation, and a ton of different versions of people with their own stories and wants and memories and hopes forcing a narrative that’s closed to us to let us in. Because we’re fans, and that’s what we do.
Of course it’s hard. Our wacky TV show and its participatory fan culture just got really personal in an incredibly public way. It may be what we’ve said we’ve wanted narratively for a while, but we didn’t expect it. Not really. And while Klaine and Finchel may be ready, a lot of us aren’t. Not like this. Not now. Not as we are. And not, for some of us, as we were.
And as wrapped up as I’ve been in this fandom moment and its collective anxiety, I do have to say from all the way over here where all these stories about my own virginity are vague and fuzzy and sort of boring? It really is going to be okay.