In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Sunday I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
I haven’t shied away from the fact that I’ve been disappointed with Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) character arc during season 4 of Stranger Things. At least in volume 1 of things. I was not here for this “beautiful” journey where they explored Will’s complex understanding of his sexuality. That’s changed after watching season 4 volume 2 of the Netflix series.
Let’s talk about why.
Volume 1 of Stranger Things presented us with a Will that was reserved and heartbroken. And I just wanted someone to see him the way that I and the rest of the LGBTQ+ community saw him. As one of us. As someone to be told that they are loved. And I was rightfully angry because things felt like they were moving too slow or like they would never happen.
I felt that start to change during that pivotal scene between Will and Mike (Finn Wolfhard) in the Surfer Boy van. Will showed how strong he was by putting aside his pain and helping his friend. And even though I’m mad at Mike’s ignorance, it isn’t him that I was focusing on. I couldn’t stop looking at Will as he poured his heart out and then started self reflecting about how he feels like a mistake for being different.
Mike didn’t see that Will was confessing his feelings, not about possibly having feelings for Mike, but for just being different. But we saw Will for everything he was. And it was at that moment that it clicked for me. Will is a young man in his first year of highschool. Furthermore, he’s gone through tramautic event after traumatic event, leaving little room for him to self reflect on who he is.
Season 4 of Stranger Things is that time for self reflection where he is starting to figure everything out. And even though it’s important to say the words, to speak your truth, it’s ok that Will is working towards that. That’s what he was doing in that van when he turned away and started crying; working through it. And it made me look at myself and my journey to accepting who I am as a queer person.
I personally didn’t have the familial or friendship support system. But I sure as hell had TV and movies that opened doorways in my mind and heart to accept myself. And when I think of Will, in that moment and those before it, he felt like he didn’t have neither of these things. He absolutely didn’t have the TV shows and movies to make him feel accepted. And he was so damn scared that his family wouldn’t accept him that he didn’t even think that he had that familial support system.
That’s where Jonathan Byers (Charlie Heaton) comes in and why this upcoming Stranger Things scene in season 4 volume 2 is one of the most touching of the series.
Season 4 of Stranger Things hasn’t given us much Jonathan. He’s helped, there’s no doubt about that. But he’s just been sitting there for a lot of it as things happened to others. And I get that the show is balancing a wide range of characters. That makes it difficult to give everyone time. But I kind of forgot about Jonathan because everyone was getting the screentime/storylines besides him.
Jonathan has always had Will’s back. That’s his baby brother and he’ll do anything for him. He’s proved that time and time again. But I don’t think he saw Will until that very moment in the van. And I think he’s pieced together that his brother is holding a secret that he thinks he can’t tell Jonathan. Being the big brother that Jonathan is, he decided to tell Will how utterly loved he is, no matter what during the Surfer Boy kitchen scene.
And it’s exactly what Will needed to hear.
Will has been stuck in this rut, where he thinks no one sees him or could love him for who he is. But Jonathan sees him and loves him. And now that he knows it, that there is that familial bond there to support him as he finds himself, it’ll become easier to speak his truth or just find it in the first place. It’s not like he’s going to just come out that he’s gay because of it. But he’s one step closer. And I can wait.
I feel like people, including myself have wanted Will to come out on their timetable. But it’s not about us. It’s about Will. It’s about this young and traumatized soul knowing he is loved, being reunited with family, and ultimately fighting the literal demon who has shattered his life and stifled his progress. He’s accomplished two of those things and now it’s time for the last one when Stranger Things returns for season 5.
So, I’ll be patient. I will wait. And I hope that fans of Will take the time to stop and think about what they would do or feel like if they were in Will’s shoes. Or even think about your own journey. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t quick, but it was oh so worth it. And with plenty of patience and love, I think that Will Byers will find that inner peace before Stranger Things season 5 wraps up the show forever.
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)
You captured the essence of the story. I felt all his turmoil while watching and you put it all into words.