Darren Criss says he’s ‘culturally queer’

“Glee” star Darren Criss, who played the queer character Blaine on the show, was a favorite of LGBTQ+ audiences, although in real life Criss identifies as a straight, cisgender man.

Criss was at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo over the weekend, where he was asked about his “Glee” character being in a gay relationship on the show.

“It was f—ing awesome…. Nowadays, we just call it a relationship on TV. But to contextualize it, a gay relationship on mainstream Fox, that’s a pretty cool thing to be a part of,” he said.

He continued, “There was an awareness of the gay experience that was not a foreign concept to me. I have been so culturally queer my whole life. 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 f—.”

“Culturally queer” is defined as someone who grows up “immersed in queer culture, including traditions, celebrations, media, and language,” according to the Queerspawn Resource Project. Additionally, “some LGBTQ+ individuals use the term to describe allies who go over and above expectations in demonstrations of both their allyship and understanding of queer culture,” as defined by PFLAG.

Criss added that his upbringing was a huge part of how he views queer communities.

“It was in queer communities that I’ve found people that I idolize, that I want to learn something from,” he said. “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.”

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com