Why ‘The Walking Dead’ Needs More Sexual Diversity

Our favorite crossbow-wielding character from The Walking Dead might be gay. I’m talking about Daryl Dixon, the late Merle’s sensitive and kinda-caring-but-still-tough-as-nails brother who has all of our zombie-obsessed hearts. In an interview with Comicbook.com, show creator Robert Kirkman was asked about the possibility of Daryl’s homosexuality, and Kirkman replied with: “All I can say is that it’s been discussed. We have very specific ideas about Daryl’s sexuality (or the seeming lack thereof), and if there’s ever a quiet period in the show where he’s not consistently distracted by crossbowing. . .we’ll tackle it in the show,” adding that AMC is more than happy welcoming Daryl to come out. 

Although it hasn’t been confirmed (and we won’t find out until October), I think it’s awesome that Daryl might be gay. This entire time, Walking Dead fans have wondered who Daryl will finally get with: Carol or Beth. No one really thought about the possibility of Daryl just not being into females, period. The last few seasons have been pretty subtle about Carol and Beth’s flirtions with him, leaving us a little confused about what exactly is going on inside Daryl’s greasy, but adorable head. It ALMOST seemed like Carol and Daryl were going to hook up at one point, but a part of us knew this surely couldn’t happen. Carol is far too motherly and too concerned about their survival to become romantically involved with anyone. Beth brought out the big guns (i.e. booze) in their last scene together in season four, but nothing even slightly gushy happened between them. Maybe Daryl is just not interested in anyone, or maybe Daryl is interested in guys.

If the latter is true, Daryl would be The Walking Dead’s second LGBTQ character (Tara being the first). The monumental problem with television as a whole, is that it’s just not very representative of homosexuality. More often than not, a show will have a single, prominent gay character. Think Sex and the City’s Stanford Blatch or GIRLS’ Elijah Krantz. The character is also often marginalized to the sidelines. This is problematic.

According to The Williams Institute, about 9 million Americans identify themselves as LGBTQ. If television truly represented the average American, homosexuality wouldn’t be such a rarity. Granted, the human population in The Walking Dead has been slashed by like, 85%, so it’s hard to compare numbers here. However, that absolutely does not mean there should only be one homosexual character on the show. Or any show, for that matter. When TV gives us “the token gay character” or uses homosexuality as a shock factor, it’s perpetuating heteronormativity (the ideology that heterosexuality is the norm), and that’s not good.

We now have the Internet analyzing every conversation Daryl has had with Rick, Merle, Carol, and Beth in order to see what kinds of “signs” we missed. But honestly, I don’t think there even has to be signs. What, are we really going to look into the time when Daryl helped saved Rick and contribute that altruism to his budding gay sexuality? Look. If Daryl isn’t gay, then he’s not gay. However, if he is, then it helps normalize homosexuality, and it also challenges the gay character trope so heavily prevalent in TV and film. The bottom line, is that we need more variety in the types of characters in television. Shows like Orange is the New Black and True Blood have been tackling this social issue, but more shows need to get on board.

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