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Is Will On Stranger Things Queer? Here’s What We Know

Mike and Will in Stranger Things

Stranger Things thrives on mystery. Whether it’s unpacking the unknowns of The Upside Down or revealing worldwide conspiracies, the hit Netflix series is at its most thrilling when it’s teasing out answers and dark truths. But there’s one mystery that queer fans are especially interested in solving, and that’s the question of Will Byers’s (Noah Schnapp) sexuality.

Speculation that Byers might be LGBTQ+ identified began in season three during an argument between Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will over their changing friendship. At one point, a frustrated Mike shouts “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls!” at Will, who looks wounded and confused.

At the time, Schnapp explained that what the writers intended had less to do with Will’s sexuality than with the impact spending time in The Upside Down had on him. “While all the characters were out developing and growing up, Will was in The Upside Down and he was alone there, not interacting with or connected to his friends or the rest of the world. And when he got back, he expected everything to just go back to how it was before, how it was when he was normal and when he was a kid and he wanted to go back to the basement and play D&D... I just interpret it like he’s not ready to grow up and he doesn’t really want to move on to dating and relationships yet,” he told The Wrap in 2020.

However, there’ve been a handful of moments in season four that have added fuel to the fire of speculation. For instance, in the premiere episode, Will is working on a project about a person they look up to and he selects Alan Turing, the gay World War II codebreaker hero who was also prosecuted and punished in the 1950s for his sexuality.

And in the fourth episode, a conversation between Will and Mike further raised eyebrows (and hopes). “Sometimes, I think it’s just scary, to open up like that — to say how you really feel, especially to people you care about the most,” Will says. “Because what if — what if they don’t like the truth?”

If this feels like a kid on the verge of coming out, executive producer and director Shawn Levy told Entertainment Weekly that may indeed be by design. “Without getting into where we go later in season four [Volume II], I guess I’ll just say that there aren’t many accidents on Stranger Things,” he said. “There is clear intention and strategy and real thought given to each and every character. So, if you came away from Volume I feeling those bread crumbs of plot and character, it’s probably no accident.”

Levy isn’t the only one fanning speculation. In a promotional video for the season, David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper, teased (at about the 4:10 mark) that Will may have a love interest. “If you’ve been watching the show you should know that Will is not interested in [Eleven],” he said. “He’s interested in someone else in the group.”

“Yeah, you’ll see soon,” Wolfhard added. “He’s interested...”

“He’s very interested,” said Harbour.

In an interview with Variety, Schnapp and Millie Bobbie Brown (who portrays Eleven in the series) shared their thoughts on Will’s sexuality and explained how the ambiguity is just as important as if he were to come out.

“I feel like they never really address it or blatantly say how Will is,” Schnapp said. “I think that’s the beauty of it, that it’s just up to the audience’s interpretation, if it’s Will kind of just refusing to grow up and growing up slower than his friends, or if he is really gay.”

Eleven and Will in Stranger Things

Brown added, “Can I just say, it’s 2022 and we don’t have to label things. I think what’s really nice about Will’s character is that he’s just a human being going through his own personal demons and issues. So many kids out there don’t know, and that’s OK. That’s OK to not know. And that’s OK not to label things.”

Schnapp added that the ambiguity resonates with kids still figuring out who they are. “I find that people do reach to put a label on him and just want to know, so badly, like, ‘Oh, and this is it,’” he said. “He’s just confused and growing up. And that’s what it is to be a kid.”

Stranger Things season four, volume one is out now on Netflix. The second volume drops on the streaming service July 1. 

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