The intern affectionally dubbed "Glasses" came out on Grey's Anatomy Thursday night, after weeks of flirting with fellow surgeon Nico Kim (Alex Landi). Glasses, whose real character name is Levi, is an awkward, but kind, intern — a sort of proto-April Kepner (Sarah Drew, who left the show last season). Since the beginning of season 15, Levi had been flirting with fellow doctor Nico, who is at Grey Sloan Memorial on a fellowship. On Thursday night's episode, titled "Flowers Grow Out Of My Gravev," they finally kissed, which led to Levi's big moment. He happily told Nico that this was his first kiss with a man, using his transition to orthopedics as an allegory for his switch.
"That was my first time," he exclaimed post-kiss. "Today, doing ortho...stuff. Up until now, I'd been focussing on general, and it never really felt right." This reveal had a less-than-fun fallout, with Nico deciding that he can't "teach" Levi how to be a gay man moving about the world, essentially. (Nico, no one asked you to do that!) But what could we expect? Grey's Anatomy to provide a tidy, manageable romance? Nah, things are only going to get more complicated from here. For Grey's first major gay male romance, it's an exciting start.
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As a gay guy myself, tonight's episode was so special to me. This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio, and it blows my mind that I'm able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on Grey’s Anatomy. His vulnerability and courage inspire me every day, and I hope he can do the same for you. To all of you who feel like little Levis out there, know that I do too, that you are seen, and that we're all in this together. And to everyone who has supported me over the years, I can't thank you enough, and I love you more than all the stars...
Actor Jake Borelli, who plays Levi, used the opportunity to discuss his own sexuality, too. In an Instagram post, Borelli celebrated the magnitude of his character's arc.
"This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio, and it blows my mind that I'm able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on Grey’s Anatomy," Borelli wrote.
In a separate interview with Entertainment Weekly, Borelli and showrunner Krista Vernoff detailed just how they felt about Levi's burgeoning storyline. For Borelli, who was openly gay in his personal life, this is his professional "coming out." "As a gay guy, you have to come out all the time. People think coming out is the first time [someone] says they’re gay when in reality coming out is a constant process,” he told EW. “The last huge coming out I had in my life was when I came out to my parents when I was 18. I’ve forgotten how intense the feelings are and how big a step it is.”
In the same interview, Vernoff explained that this storyline wasn't just leaning on sexuality for an interesting plot or cultural kudos. "Jake is an incredible actor and the more we wrote for him, the more we wanted to write for him," she said. Levi is based loosely on a friend of hers from college, whom she described as "clumsy" before he eventually came out. Said Vernoff, "Living in his truth seemed to set something free in him where he was no longer tripping over his own feet. He emerged with strength and power and sex appeal that had not existed in him publicly prior and when I remembered my friend, I wanted to tell that story with Jake because it felt like a really beautiful way to evolve his character."
The addition of actor Landi this year suggested that Levi would eventually get a love interest — Landi, a 26-year-old New York native, was cast expressly as Grey's first gay male surgeon. At the time of his casting, Vernoff told EW that Landi would be a potential love interest for Borelli's character. Seeing as love stories on this show can extend over years and years — Teddy (Kim Raver) and Owen (Kevin McKidd) are still rearing after a decade — this should be the start of a beautiful charactership.
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