I haven’t seen the Stranger Things series on Netflix, but I’m adding it to my Watch List. Even without having watched yet, this is an interesting article. There’s debate and unhappiness among viewers and some in the LGBTQ+ community about the slow speed of character Will’s coming out as gay.
Apparently the show is set in the 1980s, so today’s standards of Pride and openness weren’t established yet. That needs to kept in mind. But I also think storylines like this can be richer and more meaningful when told slowly.
About 10 years ago the NBC soap opera, Days of Our Lives, ran the best gay coming out storyline I’ve ever seen. Legacy character Will Horton, played magnificently by Chandler Massey, endured a slow and painful coming to terms with himself. The entire story arc lasted two years or longer — very slow! — but this enabled us to see deep into the character and all the issues involved in overcoming one’s own internalized homophobia. In one scene, Will spits with disgust at his own image in the mirror.
Then there was a scene with Will finally coming out to his grandmother Marlena, also played magnificently by Deidre Hall. “Confessing” was probably more how Will experienced it. But that 5-minute scene may be the best ever in soap opera history and LGBTQ+ storytelling.
Finally, at long last, Will Horton came out proud and strong. He could have been a shallow 2-dimensional soap character but following his two-year journey made him rich and 3-dimensional. I’m sure some Days viewers are homophobic, but it must have been much harder to continue hating after watching Will’s struggle unfold — a struggle many people they know in real life have to endure.