The death of Cory Monteith and one gleek’s grieving

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Fox Network’s “Glee,” created by Ryan Murphy, has remained a popular hit series – both with audiences at large as well as those among the LGBT community. With heavy hearts, it was announced that “Glee” lost a cast member, and we lost an LGBT ally. Cory Monteith, who played the lovable Finn Hudson, was found dead in Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel on July 13.

While the cause of death is not yet confirmed, Monteith had battled years of alcohol and drug abuse. Beginning at the age of 13, he attended 16 different schools, one of which was a school specifically designed for troubled teens with substance abuse issues. He eventually dropped out of school, and spun into an unhealthy pattern of supporting his drug addition through theft. His family eventually led an intervention when he was 19. Monteith had checked into rehab again in March while filming “Glee.”

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Cory was an exceptional talent and an even more exceptional person,” read a statement released by the executive producers of the show. “He was a true joy to work with and we will all miss him tremendously. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones.”

As a fellow “Gleek” fan, the news is heartbreaking. And like many gleekers who have followed the show from its beginnings, I have a “love/hate” relationship with it. Initially, I felt that the show didn’t capture the essence of the LGBT community as well as they could have, relying heavily on stereotypes rather than truth. In an article written for 429Magazine last year, I detailed certain criticisms regarding the show’s use of stereotypes.

While the first season was pitch perfect, the show has faltered every now and then. Regardless, they have continued to pull me in one way or another, and I admit, I tune in every week to watch. Regardless of its faults, the show has always done its best to fight for the underdog, tackling major issues relevant in society today – LGBT concerns among them. Accompanied by Darren Criss’ rendition of “Cough Syrup,” I was in tears when a gay character attempted to commit suicide because of bullying.

Ryan Murphy has said he modeled both Kurt Hummel, the show’s main gay, and Rachel Berry after himself. Kurt’s struggles growing up as a gay teenager reflect Murphy’s own.  From his loss of faith to facing homophobic bullying, Kurt has dealt with issues that many who identify as LGBT have also faced.

And then there was Monteith’s Finn, providing a foil to Kurt’s own narrative trajectory. Finn becomes Kurt’s stepbrother, offering a different perspective of acceptance and allyship – but only after confronting some of his own prejudices.

In the show’s first season, Kurt falls for Finn. It’s a love and relationship that remains unrequited – an experience many can connect with. Raw in form, we felt Kurt’s pain.

The storyline details Finn’s uneasiness concerning Kurt’s orientation. Finn demonstrated a level of “forced tolerance” in uncomfortable situations. It’s a shockingly real moment when Finn call Kurt a “fag.” However, starting here, we then experience Finn’s changing attitude, growing acceptance, and eventual unquestionable ally relationship to Kurt and future LGBT characters.

Much like the character he played, Monteith was a vocal advocate for the LGBT community. He co-hosted the 23rd annual GLAAD Media Awards with fellow “Glee” star Naya Rivera. He also filmed a PSA for the Straight But Not Narrow video campaign that seeks to combat uneasiness amongst heterosexuals in regards to the LGBT community.

As a central character that often served as the moral center of the show, it will be interesting to see where writers and producers decide to take the storyline.

Will they find a whimsical alibi to explain his disappearance from the show?

For this gleek, I hope the answer is no. It would be a disservice to the audience as well as to Cory Monteith and the character he created. I hope they incorporate this very real and very tragic news into the plot, and let the audience mourn for a character they’ve come to love.

I want to remember Cory Monteith for his talent and what he contributed to Glee. My favorite Finn Hudson song can be found below. Hello Cory Monteith. We did love you. And now, we say our goodbyes.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this time. 

429Magazine

Hello, I love you (The Doors cover)- Cory Monteith

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