Glee star Darren Criss says helping bring a gay relationship to mainstream TV was ‘f**king awesome’

Darren Criss, a non-LGBTQ+ actor who got famous for playing queer roles, wears a blue blazer and pink shirt while smiling at the camera.

Darren Criss, best known for playing gay character Blaine Anderson in Glee, has shared how “awesome” it was to be part of bringing a groundbreaking gay relationship to TV screens.

Criss appeared in Ryan Murphy’s musical-comedy-drama Glee from 2010 to 2015, as butter-voiced singer and on-again-off-again partner of Chris Colfer’s Kurt Hummel. Criss identifies as heterosexual in his personal life.

Appearing at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo over the weekend (27-28 April), Criss was asked what it was like to be part of such a groundbreaking TV relationship.

“It was f**king awesome,” he replied. “Nowadays, we just call it a relationship on TV. But to contextualise it, a gay relationship on mainstream Fox, that’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of,” he said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Continuing, Criss explained that his upbringing in San Francisco helped lend him an affinity with the LGBTQ+ community, and that he’s actually “culturally queer”.

“I have been so culturally queer my whole life,” he said. “Not because I’m trying, I was gonna say not because I’m trying to be cool, but I’m gonna erase that, because I am trying to be cool. The things in my life that I have tried to emulate, learn from and be inspired by are 100 per cent queer as f**k.

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“It was in queer communities that I’ve found people I idolise. I’d say that’s a gross generalisation, that’s a lot of things and a lot of people. But I grew up in San Francisco in the ’90s. I watched men die.

“There was an awareness of the gay experience that was not a foreign concept to me. So, it was a narrative that I cared deeply about.”

Darren Criss (L) and Chris Colfer (R) as Blaine Anderson and Kurt Hummel on Glee
Darren Criss (L) and Chris Colfer (R) as Blaine and Kurt in Glee. (Fox)

As the conversation surrounding queer characters being played by LGBTQ+ actors got louder in recent years, Criss was one heterosexual star who publicly rejected the idea of taking on any gay roles in the future, despite the success doing so had brought him.

He has also played Andrew Cunanan, gay spree killer and murderer of Donatella Versace’s brother Gianni Versace, in Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.

“I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role,” Criss told Bustle in 2018.

“The reason I say that is because getting to play those characters is inherently a wonderful dramatic experience. It has made for very compelling and interesting people.”

Former Glee co-star Kevin McHale has also previously said what everyone’s thinking, and declared in 2020 that Darren Criss was something that “feels gay, but isn’t” – a sentiment that Criss has approved of.