For one thing, we went to different high schools. For another, I’m a good 14 years older than him. And for yet another, he had to deal with being severely bullied at school for his sexuality and I had to deal with maybe one or two negative comments about being in colorguard (that’s “flag team” to you a**holes who never bothered to learn the word “colorguard”).
Colfer has made no secret, mostly on the late night talk show circuit, about his disdain for the conservative, “cow tipping” town of Clovis, CA, where he grew up. That experience no doubt led him to write the movie Struck By Lightning, a film about a high school student who feels he isn’t being heard by his classmates. teachers, and parents.
Last night, I saw Struck By Lightning at the Reel Pride Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at the Tower Theatre in Fresno, CA. Despite Colfer’s jokingly dire predictions, the theater was packed, and not just by Glee fans (or his family), though that certainly didn’t hurt the numbers. Many of the attendees were there for another reason. Whenever Colfer’s character, Carson Phillips, gave a speech to his fellow high school inmates about sticking up for themselves, and not giving in to who “they” expect you to be, the audience clapped and cheered loudly.
Colfer wasn’t at last night’s screening, but if he had been, he would have seen nearly 700 Fresnans and cow-tippin’ Clovis-ites sharing in and understanding an experience that maybe Colfer thinks was his alone — the experience of feeling utterly isolated, different, unheard. The people in that audience heard Colfer, and they got it.
Chris Colfer sent a letter to Reel Pride organizers attributing last night’s absence to Glee obligations. I don’t doubt that Colfer is very busy. However, it’s a shame he wasn’t able to be there to see the many in his hometown who empathize with his experience, not just because he’s a celebrity, but because he has the courage to put out there the things we don’t often talk about — the feeling of being abandoned and isolated by your peers, the very people who are supposed to have your back. As far as I know, Colfer doesn’t make many public appearances in Fresno or Clovis, but a truce with his hometown and his past might do him, and us, some good.