'Glee' sex talk: Let's hear it for Burt Hummel! (And how did your sex education compare?)

You can talk about Gwyneth Paltrow’s return to Glee, but for me, last night’s episode was all about Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) once again proving why he’s the heart of this show. If you missed the sex talk he had with his gay son Kurt (Chris Colfer), watch it below. I don’t have kids, but should I ever need to have “the talk” with one, I hope I’d do it as eloquently and with as much empathy. He went to the free clinic to get gay-specific pamphlets that covered the mechanics, but more importantly, he spoke to Kurt about the emotional side of sex. Women, he said, understand that there is one, while men are more likely to think of it as just something fun to do. “With two guys, you got two people who think that sex is just sex. It’s gonna be easier to come by. And once you start doin’ this stuff, you’re not gonna wanna stop,” Burt said. “You gotta know that it means something. It’s doing something to you, to your heart, to your self-esteem — even though it feels like you’re just havin’ fun.” Kurt thought this was his dad’s way of telling him to not have sex. It wasn’t. “Kurt, when you’re ready, I want you to be able to … do everything. But when you’re ready, I want you to use it as a way to connect to another person. Don’t throw yourself around like you don’t matter. ‘Cause you matter, Kurt.” That’s not a new sentiment, but somehow, O’Malley made it sound like a truth and not a sermon. It was more understated than, say, Mary Jo Shively’s moving plea for condoms in school on Designing Women, but I’d also argue even more touching because it was personal, and coming from a father who means it when he tells his child he wants him to be happy. He wants him to experience love because he’s worthy of it.

How did your sex education compare to what we saw last night on Glee? I had several flashbacks after watching the episode: 

1. I don’t recall ever actually having “the talk” with one of my parents, but I remember the boys and girls being separated and shown some movie in grade school, which I think I did tell my mother about afterward. I had a health class in, I want to say, the eighth grade, but I never got the condom-on-the-banana lecture I’ve seen in TV and movies. Am I the only one who missed out on that right of passage? I’m 35, in case this is an age thing.

2. I’d think the idea of a teen opening up to a teacher about sex was crazy if I and a couple of other girls hadn’t asked our young metal shop teacher what oral sex was during study hall in the seventh grade because they didn’t agree with me that it must be when you talk about sex. I remember his face turning white, then him calmly asking us, “Do you girls really want to know?” I assume he told us because I’ve blocked out what he said next. Mortifying.

3. I think most of my sex ed came in senior-year Calculus. We’d divide into groups of four all the time, and it was me (valedictorian), my best friend (salutatorian), a girl who went on to work at NASA, and another smart girl who was sexually active. So NASA girl would quickly do the actual work, teach us calc, and then we’d spend the rest of class quizzing the fourth girl on her sex life. Good times.

Read more:
Glee recap: Let’s talk about sex
The Glee-ful Gwyneth Paltrow: Ken Tucker’s review


Comments (64 total) Add your comment
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  • S

    I never had the banana/condom talk in school, I always wondered if people actually did that.
    My parents never talked to us about sex outside of my dad randomly asking me if I was pregnant when I was complaining about craving for pickles. The most sex-ed I ever had was from my best friend in HS who got around quite a bit. She would tell me about her exploits and I would hang on her every word.

    • Meg

      No banana lecture for me. We had the school district’s clinical psychologist give us the “family life” lecture–nothing at all about sex except terrifying all of us by demonstrating a life-size baby doll being born through a roll of duct tape. The tape roll is way tinier than a baby’s head.

      • Zach

        Being gay myself with disapproving parents, this scene really touched me. I know how badly I wish I would be able to have any conversation with my parents at all, so to see a character like Burt who is so open and loving to his son, was just beautiful.

      • wiseguy

        I remembered our sex education teacher who was a spinster! Before a co-ed class, she wanted to demonstrate lovemaking by holding up a cover of a ballpoint pen in one hand and the ballpoint pen in the other. She referred to the cover as a woman’s hu-ha while the pen was a man’s pee-pee. She then thrust the pen into the cover and said this is how a man and a woman have sex. That set off howls of laughter in the class. I was thirteen at the time.

  • Shaun

    Best sex talk on tv ever. This show should’ve been on 10+ years ago.

    • PixxieTrixxie

      I agree and it was so relevant in contrast to what all the other young people in the school/Glee club are doing – especially Brittany and Santana. Santana – it is nice to see that there is a heart inside her and that it isn’t all so casual for her.
      Excellent episode.
      I’m 52 and we never had the banana/condom demonstration. Sex talk was a whole class in 5th grade once a week with a nurse teacher for several weeks, boys and girls together, public school. Very anatomical but this was 1969 right during the Free Love era in America so it was all about information then. Might have had a banana/condom demo in college when Planned Parenthood came to talk to our dorm (all female)about protection. Can’t recall – which makes me lean toward no demo except seeing it on tv.

    • wg

      This sequence finally made me (belatedly) realize my answer to the ew poll of what current character on tv you’d most like to date: Burt Hummel. What an amazing beautiful man.

  • Chelsea

    I never had “the talk” with my parents, either. By the time I got to sex education (they called it health class at my high school) I already learned the gist from movies, TV, and talking with peers.

    • Chelsea

      Oh, and I would say “Titanic” in 3rd Grade was probably my first exposure to what sex actually is. In retrospect, it’s obviously not that graphic a scene, but for a 3rd grader it was pretty out there.

  • Mel

    I’m in the same age bracket (33) and never did the condom-on-produce lesson either. (I do, however, vividly recall sharing a lab table with a boy named John while our entire 7th grade class was permanently scarred by a graphic video of a woman giving birth.) Like you, I learned most everything from sexually active friends. And romance novels, lol.

    • K

      I never had the condom-on-produce OR the graphic birth video, although there were other health classes in my school who watched the birth video. For whatever reason, mine just didn’t. But we had a “Family Life” unit in health class every year starting in 6th grade, with some time given to the reproductive system in 4th and 5th grade. And girls and boys were taught separately up until 8th grade, when we had to sit together and learn about the vas deferens and all that business, and STDs and so on. Thank goodness health/PE was only required through 10th grade so that we didn’t have to keep doing Family Life every year. But in hindsight, my school did a really good job with sex ed by including safe sex practices and abstinence promotion, and my parents were aware of this and my mom told me that she never had any kind of sex talk with me because she thought the school system did such a good job. On the other hand, my husband ended up coming from a neighboring school system, and he thought human male penises had bones in them and that women pee through their vaginas. We started dating at 19, and he still thought this at that age. I still can’t understand how that happened.

  • Audrey

    We never had the banana/condom talk either. But we did have the “chunky Cheeto” lesson, where one person would eat chew some Cheetos, spit them in a cup of water, then pour that water into everyone else’s water to represent that when you sleep with one person, you sleep with everyone, and how easily you can contract an STD. GROSS. I didn’t learn anything crucial about sex from my parents or teachers, but from my friends.

  • EMF

    I didn’t get the banana/condom lecture either. I’m 40. By the time I got to college in the late 80’s we had several safe sex lectures in our dorm with the banana/condom demonstration.

  • lauren

    the talk was so well done we replayed to be sure our 15YO was listening to it. it struck the balance between sex just =fun and sex should=meaning perfectly. i could not have done it better. gay or straight it was perfect.

    • LibbyP

      I did this too. Made sure my 8th and 9th graders heard it and then replayed it for my hubby.

  • alice

    Oh c’mon. I can’t be the only late-30s woman who got a good bulk of their sex-ed from a well-loved copy of “Forever,” by Judy Blume, can I?!

    • mrw

      i’m 31 and other than a few “health classes” in junior high where we girls mostly learned about getting our periods (long after most of us had), “forever” was my real sex education

    • Rebecca

      I”m 44, and I did.

    • Kate

      No you are not, and I’m 46 LOL!

    • julia

      Come to think of it, I did get most of my sex ed from judy blume! Another great tv parent/child sex talk is tank and julie taylor on fnl. I ccried watching it wishing someone had said those words to me when I was younger.

    • lagitha

      Before I found about about sex from “Forever”, I learned about men-stru-A-shun from “Are You There, God?”

      • suebrody

        Yes, me, too (47 years old). Sex ed did not exist in my school. It was my mother, awkwardly trying to explain, and Judy Blume, doing it better. Burt and Kurt: the perfect father/son combination.

    • Ally

      No you are not. I am 39, and I remember hiding Forever under my mattress so my mom wouldn’t catch me reading it. I don’t think my parents ever really had “the talk” with me. I remember watching a movie in 6th grade, but that was more about the reproductive system and body changes.

    • Lisa

      Lol, Alice! I always joke that if it wasn’t for Judy Blume,I wouldn’t have a child now!

    • Kerri

      I’m 48 and I’d love to read “Forever” again, just for the heck of it. A well-read, well-thumbed copy of that book went around my class 1 entire year.

    • LibbyP

      My mother baneed “Forever” but I read it anyway. Now that I’m a mom to a 15 y.o., I’m going to read it again!

  • Laurie

    I love all the scenes between Kurt and Burt. It makes me realize how much we’re missing because the families of the rest of the cast are ignored so we’re denied the chance to see them with their families.

  • Michael

    The scenes between Kurt and Burt are always among the best on the show. That one was no exception. It’s really good to portray such a loving father/ gay son relationship on TV. The episode as a whole, though, was a weak one. However, I do want there to be a perfume called “Zizes,” because the slogan “You just got ‘zized'” is just too good!

  • tommymommy

    The sex talk from my dad was as follows: “Sex is fun. Just don’t do anything stupid.” Short and to the point.

    • Tiffany

      Mine was ‘I was pregnant at 17, there you go’. Ahhhh, memories. Needless to say, did not have sex until I left for college.

    • Tiffany

      My talk was, ‘Remember, I got pregnant with you at 17.’. Ahhhh, memories. I am 31.

    • abadstroller

      And that pretty much says it all!

    • Lily

      Can I quote you in my speech that I will give to my speech club ?

  • Jackie

    I’m 30, and I never had ‘the talk’ with my parents. In fifth grade, they separated the boys and girls for one week and had separate talks. Then there was a health class in middle school and a health class in high school, and that was pretty much it (no condom-on-produce demonstrations). The closest I came to talking about sex to my parents was when my mom asked me if I had sex with my first boyfriend.

  • Kana

    I’ve never seen a produce/condom demonstration in person. I remember the period movie in 6th grade ; that’s about it. A teacher would be the last person I would have asked for sex ed info.

    I really love seeing Burt and his love for Kurt. The show is so hokey and campy but their scenes are so natural and real. Best.TV.Dad.Ever!

  • Elly

    We never got the condom / banana demonstration either, but they did get the plastic cut-away of the female anatomy out and show how to insert a diaphragm.

  • Bug

    I don’t really so much remember the details of the sex ed talk I had with my mom. She started when we were 4 in my house, then just added info as we grew up and developed. I also volunteered in some clinics when I was a teenager, so I had courses and talks I had to take for that.

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