There are Stranger Things than gay characters
author: annie trussler | op-ed editor
That character, for me, at least, is Will Byers. I love that kid. God, I love that kid.
Hello, everyone. Today, I am composed entirely of coffee. Why, you may ask? I decided to stay up all night to watch Season Two of Stranger Things. I watched the sunrise while jamming to that damnable theme song.
Now, like most people, I am invested in shows wholly for a single character. You know – everyone has that character that they root for no matter what. That character, for me, at least, is Will Byers. I love that kid. God, I love that kid.
In season one, episode one, Joyce Byers offhandedly mentions that Will’s father, Lonnie, refers to him as a “fag” because he is “queer.” Any queer viewer instantly sighed a sigh of, “oh, yes, that’s familiar.” Will is, from the beginning, heavily, heavily queer-coded.
Now, any queer readers will know where this trap leads. Writers will code a character to be queer in some fashion. From there, we get our hopes up, they die or end up straight. I genuinely, however, thought we might have something here.
SPOILERS AHEAD: At the end of Season Two, Will, after all of his horrific trauma, is asked to dance by a girl at the Snowball (after being called “Zombie Boy,” which, by the way, is more fucked up) – and, he says yes. Will Byers danced with some random girl. My Will Byers? I don’t think so. Not in my gay house.
I know what you’re all thinking: Annie, you’re being overdramatic. Maybe so! I am also so, so tired of being teased with queer characters, only to be disappointed later. I love Will Byers so profoundly that this feels like a punch to the gut. Trust me, I have had many, many punches.
It could be true, yes, that he said yes to this girl out of obligation, but, think about it: Will was, arguably, the protagonist of this season. Why did he get thrown away to dance with some random girl at the ending scene? It seems pointless. Actually, there is a point: to hit us with a “screw you.”
This happens everywhere, and frankly, I’m sick of it. It should not be so hard for queer people to see themselves in modern television. One in ten people (supposedly – I think that number is actually higher) are queer in some form. Believe me, we are much more abundant than Upside Down monsters. Maybe our presence in media couldn’t hurt.
Honestly, making Will Byers gay would be revolutionary. He is a young boy in the eighties who was made into both a hero and a villain He is, without a doubt, the most complex character I have seen in recent years. Can you imagine how amazing it would be for gay kids to be able to relate to him? Will Byers is essentially an icon of Netflix media, and, not to mention, he is a bad ass.
This could be my overwhelming adoration for Will talking, but the point still stands: we need gay characters. We do not need to be teased with them, we just need them. We need evil gay characters, good ones, complex ones, harsh ones, brutal ones, we need everything straight people have and more.
Plus, straight characters are boring. Usually. Sorry.