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Darren Criss made headlines out of this year’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) for saying he’s “culturally queer.” (via Entertainment Weekly). The 37-year-old actor gained fame for starring as Blaine Anderson on five seasons of the Fox musical comedy series “Glee.” Blaine was an openly gay character. Criss, who identifies as a straight, had no qualms about taking on the role and said it was “fucking awesome.”

“I have been so culturally queer my whole life,” Criss added. “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 things in my life that I have tried to emulate, learn from and be inspired by are 100 percent queer as fuck.”

Criss noted that “it was in queer communities that I’ve found people that I idolize, that I want to learn something from. And I’d say that’s a gross generalization, that’s a lot of things and a lot of people. But I grew 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.”

Blaine became one of the most popular characters on “Glee” thanks to his budding romance with Chris Colfer’s Kurt. Although Criss does not identify as gay, he is happy his breakout role was playing an openly gay character.

“In many ways, I’m glad it was me because it was a thing I really liked showing,” Criss said. “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.”

“It took the people watching it to have the aptitude for seeing beyond what was maybe given to them in other avenues of culture,” he added. “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 concluded by calling the chance to play a gay character like Blaine “a fucking privilege, and I love talking about it and I’m so grateful I got to do it.”

Head over to Entertainment Weekly’s website for more coverage on Criss’ C2E2 conversation.

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