A child star on Stranger Things has weighed in on the debate over his character’s sexual orientation.
Noah Schnapp, who portrays Will Byers on the popular Netflix series, said, “Will being gay or not is besides the point” in an Instagram post Sunday in response to Twitter speculation.
“Stranger Things is a show about a bunch of kids who are outsiders and find each other because they have been bullied in some way or are different,” the 12-year-old actor said. “Does being sensitive, or a loner, or a teenager who likes photography, or a girl with red hair and big glasses, make you gay? I'm only 12 but I do know we all relate to being different.”
“And that's why I think the Duffers wrote the show the way they did,” Schnapp concluded in reference to the Duffer brothers, who created the series. “So you can ask all these questions. I hope the real answer never comes out!”
So I thought it would be time to jump into the conversation. I've been reading stuff for a while. I think everyone here is missing the point. An author called Gary Schmidt came to speak at our school this week and he said that good stories aren't supposed to leave you with answers because then you never question yourself and you forget about it. A good book, or a good show leaves a lot of unanswered questions but makes you think. Which is what you are all doing. For me, Will being gay or not is besides the point. Stranger Things is a show about a bunch of kids who are outsiders and find each other because they have been bullied in some way or are different. Does being sensitive, or a loner, or a teenager who likes photography, or a girl with red hair and big glasses, make you gay? I'm only 12 but I do know we all relate to being different. And that's why I think the Duffers wrote the show the way they did. So you can ask all these questions. I hope the real answer never comes out! #dufferbrothers
Stranger Things centers on a group of young people who, in addition to fighting a supernatural creature and a threatening government agency, encounter bullying from classmates.
None of these characters identified as LGBT in its first season. However, a previous commentary for The Advocate, “Homophobia Is the Real Monster in Stranger Things,” noted that these characters’ “status as outsiders resonates for LGBT viewers. And the slurs used to describe them — ‘perverts,’ ‘fairies,’ ‘queer,’ ‘weirdo’ — sound all too familiar.”
Schnapp’s character in particular is targeted with these slurs after his mysterious disappearance. After he goes missing, one bully speculates he was “probably killed by some other queer.” At a memorial service, he jokes, “Will’s in fairyland now, right? Flying around with all the other little fairies, all happy and gay.”
The commentary concluded by noting the “hatred and bias lurking in the background here are still very real for many young people today,” LGBT or otherwise. And it’s clearly struck a chord with viewers. Netflix boasted 3.6 million new subscribers this quarter, in part due to the popularity of original series like Stranger Things.