It's Pride weekend! With thousands of participants and endless entertainment, PrideFest in St. Louis is known nationally as one of the best, and we're anticipating that this year's affair around Soldiers Memorial will raise the bar even higher. Get the full schedule of activities for June 28 and 29 here.
The St. Louis region has much to celebrate during PrideFest 2014. Mayor Francis Slay married four gay couples to push marriage equality into Missouri's spotlight. The city's first queer talk show, "The Gayborhood," debuted on KXFN 1380 AM. The Rams drafted Michael Sam, making him the first openly gay player in the NFL (He's apparently a great DJ, too.) Our neighbors in Illinois can enjoy same-sex marriage. There have been obstacles, certainly, but it's exciting to see the rainbow flag being flown loud and proud around here.
So when Pride headliner and Glee actor Alex Newell takes the stage Saturday at 8:50 p.m., we'll be hand-jiving right along with him. As "Wade/Unique" on Glee, Newell has pushed transgender issues into mainstream TV's spotlight. We love Unique's character progression, but the real reason we watch Glee, of course, is for the musical numbers. So to prepare for PrideFest, we've rounded up six of Newell's best Glee songs that give us the hippy, hippy shakes.
Unique sings this classic by the Who during the season three episode "Nationals," which, true enough, focuses on the championship round of a national show-choir competition. Performing for Vocal Adrenaline, the rival team to the Glee kids' New Directions, Unique dances on and around pinball machines while giving Roger Daltrey a run for his pounds sterling. Confession: Everything in this performance happens in our mind regularly. Don't be jealous.
"IF I WERE A BOY"
In the episode "The End of Twerk," which is both the greatest and saddest episode title in the history of television, Unique struggles with finding her place in high school as a transgender student. Kicked out of the women's restroom and bullied in the men's restroom, Unique's heartbreak is evident as she sings the Beyonce number. She eventually obtains access to the faculty's unisex toilet chamber, but only after choir director Will Schuester gives into cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester's demands to nix a twerk number. For the record, it's OK to roll your eyes at Will.
"DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL'S BEST FRIEND" / "MATERIAL GIRL"
Mash-ups are huge on Glee, and Unique and her friend Marley are two of the best at the art throughout the seasons. In the episode "Girls (And Boys) on Film," the friends lead the other ladies in a fun, bright homage to both Marilyn Monroe and Madonna. Best reaction: Artie pantomiming cat claws while admiring the girls. Awkward moment: Unique saying "Let's make love" to a bunch of leering high school guys and a recent graduate pretending to be a choir director.
You guys, there's an entire Glee episode that features disco music of the 1970s, and this damn thing actually makes us get wistful for the Bee Gees for, like, thirteen minutes! Finding her peace with making her feminine side public, Unique nixes the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in favor of KC and the Sunshine Band's "Boogie Shoes" during a regional competition. The angry-turned-shocked face of Vocal Adrenaline director Jesse as Unique brings down the house is priceless. Life lesson: Be who you are, and strut your sassy stuff.
"THE BITCH IS BACK" / "DRESS YOU UP"
In another mash-up episode, appropriately titled "Feud," Unique and Ryder bring Elton John and Madonna together in a clash of big personalities. Ryder hurts and pisses off Unique by refusing to acknowledge her as a woman, and the students are encouraged to get their feelings out through song -- something we totally understand. It's like the Sharks vs. the Jets without the knives (the sharp glances between Unique and Ryder are painful enough). We just wish we could figure out how all of these Glee kids know exactly how to merge songs the first time they attempt it.
In "Guilty Pleasures," the choir members are instructed to perform the stuff we all listen to when no one else is around. No one should be embarrassed to love "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, though, and the Glee ladies show us why. Portraying an adorable and convincing Baby Spice right down to the ever-present lollipop (she's got a blue tongue!), Unique leads the girls in one of the most fun and bouncy choir room numbers of season four. The drummer in the choir room isn't impressed, though; he rolls his eyes at the 1:01 mark, obviously wanting to be anywhere else. Screw him.
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