Why Darren Criss Says He Is “Culturally Queer”

Credit: Instagram/@gleeofficial

Darren Criss, renowned for his role as the charming Blaine Anderson on Glee, has recently described himself as “culturally queer.” So, what does that mean? 

A Trailblazer on and Off Screen

His portrayal of Blaine, the talented and openly gay lead singer of the Dalton Academy Warblers, helped shape one of television’s most memorable queer couples alongside Chris Colfer’s character, Kurt Hummel.

Beyond Glee, Criss continued to influence the queer narrative through his performances. His role in American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace as Andrew Cunanan earned him critical acclaim, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe. These roles deepened his connection and respect for the queer community, which he openly celebrated at a recent appearance at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.

“It was f**king awesome,” Criss exclaimed to an enthusiastic crowd, reminiscing about portraying a gay relationship (Glee) on mainstream TV. He added, “Nowadays, we just call it a relationship on TV. But to contextualize it, a gay relationship on mainstream Fox, that’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of.”

Why “Culturally Queer”?

The term “culturally queer” might puzzle some, but Criss clarified it with a cheeky confidence. Growing up in San Francisco, a city known for its vibrant queer communities, Criss was deeply influenced by the culture from a young age.

“I have been so culturally queer my whole life,” he shared, shedding light on his upbringing. “Not because I’m trying to be cool but 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 percent queer as f**k.”

He also reflected on the profound impact of his experiences during the ’90s in San Francisco, witnessing the struggles and resilience of the queer community firsthand.

Should Straight Actors Play Gay? 

In 2018, Criss made a significant decision about his career trajectory. After playing three high-profile gay characters, he announced that he would no longer pursue queer roles. “There are certain [queer] roles that I’ll see that are just wonderful,” he told Bustle. “But I want to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role.”

There has long been a discussion in Hollywood around whether or not straight actors should play queer characters. Some actors have even come forward stating they want to see more gay actors in straight roles. 

Related| 14 Straight Actors in Steamy Queer Roles

Then there is Eric McCormack who said it’s called acting for a reason. “There’s no part I’ve ever played where I wasn’t playing something I’m not. It’s part of the gig.”

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