Don't Stop Believin': How Tumblr fame and Glee changed my life
On March 15, 2011, the second-season episode of Glee called “Original Song” aired on television. Apart from the usual singing and melodrama that came with the show, “Original Song” featured the moment where Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) kissed for the first time on the show. The kiss set sail on the ship known as “Klaine,” and set me on a path down the Tumblr rabbit hole that would go far beyond fangirling over a couple on a TV show. In the truest sense of the word, two gay teens kissing on TV literally changed my life.
I was a senior in high school when I became obsessed with the Glee fandom on Tumblr and began making the online community part of my reality. Tuesday night became my favorite night of the week when I could hide away in my room with my laptop and liveblog Glee, reblogging gifs of Kurt and Blaine and chomping at the bit for any shred of spoilers I could find.
My freshman year of college, Tumblr was my reality. I was on nearly every second of the day not spent in class or sleeping, wanting to be more like the progressive, introverted people I had found online. Not only were Tuesday nights part of my routine, but Friday mornings became the second most exciting time of my week when the songs for the next episode were released online. Any space of my brain that was previously unoccupied was filled with thoughts and headcanons about Klaine and Glee.
Glee was my escape from my cramped dorm room and my own anxieties about friendship, adulthood, and the huge changes that were happening in my young adult life. As my freshman year came to an end, I started panicking about who I would be living with next year, and started looking at apartments that matched you with roommates. One of the student apartments I looked at sparked a memory of a Tumblr post I saw – two girls I followed were transferring to my university the next year, and had one space left in their four-bedroom apartment in the same complex I was looking at. I sent a message to Rose, one of the two Tumblr girls, and as they say, the rest is history.
Rose, Marissa and I met a month later halfway between their community college and my university, and I knew I had found my people. All they talked about was Glee and how dreamy Darren Criss and Chris Colfer were. They didn’t use slurs like “gay” or “retarded” and were both homebodies like me. I met Morgan – going to our school on study abroad from Australia – several months after that, and the four of us became #thetumblrbunch.
Even though Morgan only lived with us for one semester, Rose, Marissa, and I lived together for three years until we all graduated, and Marissa and I are going to be moving in together in New York City in the next month. Together, we have traveled to Los Angeles three times for Chris Colfer book signings and Darren Criss concerts, watched four seasons of Glee together on our apartment floor and listened to hours of entirely-Glee playlists on trips in the car. We met other Tumblr fans at different events who became our friends, and found our “replacement” roommate for Morgan on Tumblr. Though that particular Tumblr friendship does not have a happy ending, that relationship is how I came to adopt my cat, Elphie.
I’m writing this on an airplane back from Arizona after spending a long weekend reuniting with Morgan, Marissa and Rose after three years since Morgan leaving to go back to Australia. Even though we’re no longer in the same house, or even on the same continent, it’s like no time has passed since we were making family dinners in our tiny apartment kitchen, hiding from the Internet with board games to avoid all spoilers as Glee aired on the east coast. I will always consider them my best friends, and as ridiculous as it sounds, I can’t thank Glee enough for bringing us together.
Mia is an aspiring cat lady and obsessed with books, beauty, and pop culture. By day she works in publishing in New York City, and by night she can be found in bed, drinking Moscato and binge-watching YouTube videos.