Darren Criss attends NBC's "Carol Burnett: 90 Years of Laughter + Love" Birthday Special at Avalon Hollywood & Bardot on March 02, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. Source: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Darren Criss Says He's 'Queer AF'... 'Culturally,' That Is

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

If you ever wondered whether "Glee" hunk Darren Criss is queer... well, the answer is yes... sort of. "Culturally queer," that is, the actor said, thanks to his San Francisco background.

Criss, who identifies as straight, memorably portrayed Blaine on the Ryan Murphy-created show, and Blaine just as memorably had a same-sex romance with Kurt (played by gay actor Chris Colfer).

It wasn't that big of a stretch for the actor, who talked about portraying Blaine during a panel appearance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Entertainment Weekly reported.

"I have been so culturally queer my whole life," Criss stated. "Not because I'm trying – you know, actually, 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 actor quipped.

"The things in my life that I have tried to emulate, learn from and be inspired by are 100 percent queer as fuck," Criss went on to add.

As far as playing gay on network television, "It was fucking awesome," Criss said of Blaine and Kurt's love.

"Nowadays, we just call it a 'relationship' on TV," he noted of the same-sex romance. "But to contextualize it, a gay relationship on mainstream Fox, that's a pretty cool thing to be a part of."

Criss explained that his cultural queerness comes from having "[grown] 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."

Criss was clearly aware of the importance of representation, EW relayed. "In many ways, I'm glad it was me because it was a thing I really liked showing," he said of the role and the relationship he depicted. "It meant a great deal to me and it meant a great deal to other people. Because when people say they were affected by that show or that relationship, it's not because of me, it's because of that relationship on TV and the risks that people took to put that on TV."

Added the actor: "People of all ages, all spectrums of awareness say, 'I didn't grow up with a show like that and it was a really meaningful thing for me to see,' and I go, 'I didn't grow up with a show like that and that would've been very meaningful for me, too.' Regardless of the fact that I'm a straight kid. That has value."

"For anyone who's been an underdog, we all know, in any shape or form – sexual, religious, biological – it has value because there's going to be a lot of people who see that and say, 'Okay, I can now understand this in a context that maybe I wasn't able to before,'" Criss went on to say.

Calling the role "a fucking privilege," Criss declared, "I'm so grateful I got to do it."

So is a generation of fans.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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