I have been a fan of zombies for years now, something that started because of the Resident Evil game series. This is why I started to watch AMC’s The Walking Dead, a TV show based on the comics of the same name. One of the main characters in the show is fan-favorite Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and recently Robert Kirkman made a statement about the crossbow wielding survivor’s sexuality.
The question about Daryl’s sexuality was asked about in a fan letter for The Walking Dead #130. In the letter, the fan drew parallels between Daryl and Jesus. For those of you who don’t know, Jesus is quite a tough character in the comic book series and he’s also gay. He appeared in issue 91 and his sexuality was revealed in issue 122. The readers were quite surprised because of the reveal, and I appreciate that Kirkman decided to do it this way. It really tells readers not to take everything at face value and immediately think a character is straight because their sexuality isn’t stated when they make their first appearance. It’s similar to what Hit the Floor did near the end of Season 2.
Just like Jesus, real name Paul Monroe, Daryl’s sexuality hasn’t been mentioned in the TV series either. Daryl hasn’t mentioned any of his past girlfriends or boasted about his conquests. According to Kirkman, Daryl’s sexuality has been discussed. He further went on to say that if Daryl isn’t constantly distracted by his crossbow, his sexuality will be handled in the show and AMC is willing to do such a thing with one of their lead characters.
Kirkman’s response does sound nice but I’m still a bit weary of it. Isn’t this queerbaiting? Don’t you think mentioning the crossbow as a distraction sounds like a lame excuse? What does fighting zombies have to do with Daryl finding another man to love, if he really is gay? Doesn’t it remind you of how Jeff Davis mentioned how Stiles could be bisexual in Teen Wolf? We all know how that went!
Shows that seem to cater to the straight male audience (more or less) don’t have a good track record of introducing gay characters. The Walking Dead introduced a lesbian character, Tara Chambler, in Season 4. This is something gay fans were expecting because a lot of shows are willing to debut a lesbian character rather than risk backlash from their target audience by introducing a gay male one.
That’s not to say The Walking Dead comic series doesn’t have gay characters because it does. They just haven’t appeared on our TV screens yet. Comic books have always been ahead when it comes to LGBT representation. Having gay characters in TWD comics, however, doesn’t necessarily mean the TV show will utilize them.
Coming back to Daryl Dixon, do you think the show will risk revealing that he is gay? Daryl’s has been one of the most famous characters from the show, so much so that he was the star of The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct videogame. Making such a popular character gay would definitely be great for LGBT representation but it’s true that such a move can be considered a risk as well. Making Daryl asexual would be good too, because it’s a criminally ignored aspect of human sexuality in all of media.
What do you think of Robert Kirkman’s response to the letter? Do you think The Walking Dead will do such a thing? Or was Kirkman just being polite to the fan who wrote the latter? Let us know!
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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