So hints Robert Kirkman in a recent article that has spread through the Inter-webs like wildfire, causing passionate (and sometimes hateful) arguments for and against Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon being revealed to be a homosexual. Personally, I don't think it matters, but before I delve into the many reasons why, I have to say, I think that Kirkman is kind of being irresponsible for "teasing" this. I say that with nothing but respect, as my love/hate relationship with Robert Kirkman has been going on for almost a decade and is still going strong with no signs of ending. Either do it or don't without making a fuss, but don't "tease" to get the fans fighting. He had to know that was going to happen, and happen it [sadly] has.
Just some quick glances through the facebook posts and comments, various forum feeds, and comment sections of online media sources that picked up the story, turned my stomach much more than they delighted me. It was appalling to see how many "fans" said they would stop watching if Daryl is gay. Their reasoning? Oh, so, so much flawed reasoning, but my favorite: There are too many gays on television. Are they talking about specific gay friendly channels? GLEE? Have they stumbled upon a Queer as Folk marathon on a loop? Is Matt Bomer and Ellen Page literally sitting on their TV? Where are all of these gays? I must have one of the only predominantly straight TV's in the world. On my TV, even gay actors are playing straight. There is not even one gay character on most of the shows I watch, but I digress.... back to the Kirkman fueled frenzy. Mind you, some of these "fans" are the same ones that would riot if Daryl dies. So, follow me here... if Daryl is gay, that's just as bad as Daryl being dead. WHAT?! If these viewers are that small-minded and/or that fickle, they should stop watching now. They are not true fans.
The Walking Dead, surprisingly, is not about "shipping" (good grief, I hate that word; makes it sound like you're putting two people in a box and sending them... somewhere), sexual orientation, baby switching, having an affair with your sister's husband (don't bring up Lori and Shane - she thought Rick was dead, move on) or finding out that you and your wife are actually sister and brother. Daryl's sexual preference is a non-issue. (Norman Reedus, bless his little heart, has actually stated that "The Walking Dead is not about erections.") There are tons of straight characters on TWD that are not "coupled off", so what difference does it make if someone is gay, no one is gay or everyone is gay??? It is not going to change the character(s) at all. My guess is that the walkers will think gays are just as yummy, as they don't discriminate. So sad that some people will have to die and reanimate in order to not have a problem with race, sexual orientation or religious beliefs. Who knew we could learn such valuable life lessons from the undead? Please learn these valuable life lessons. Now.
As for the reasons that I don't think it matters if Daryl is gay, I don't even know where to start. Does it matter that Tara is gay? Except to Lord Mullet? (Eugene) No. And I love how Kirkman/Gimple treated that revelation; they didn't. She hit it off with Alisha and they subtly became a couple. No one made a big deal out of it. Mitch said some rude things, but then Daryl killed his tank and him too. Ha! Mitch was a jerk, but not only to lesbians. Only Merle Dixon could get away with stuff like that and still be likable. I miss our old pal, Merle. I think he and Tara would have been cool with each other.
Speaking of Merle, could you imagine Daryl "coming out" to him or their father if he was gay? Another reason that it doesn't matter. Gay or straight, Daryl has been through a fair amount of abuse. Even though he has bonded with his new family, it is obviously really hard for him to verbalize or act on his feelings. Glenn has stepped up and said, "My blood, my family is standing right here." Rick told him, "And you're part of that family." He left with Merle anyway, just to go back to his family and save Rick with barely a word. More recently, he offered his life in exchange for the lives of Rick, Michonne and Carl, but in the end, Rick is the one that said, "You're my brother." and that having him back with them was "everything". Daryl nods and gives a meaningful look, and you can tell, he wants to say something, but it's hard for him.
Similarly, his friendships with Michonne, Carol and Beth all have a certain closeness, but by his portrayer's own admission, Daryl like Norman Reedus himself is a bit shy and awkward. (although when I met NR, pre-TWD, I found him to be very approachable, engaging, charming and sweet) Even when he completely broke down when he was with Beth, she is the one who embraced him, from behind, and even though he needed comfort, he struggled with accepting it. With Daryl's upbringing, I doubt that he had many if any romantic relationships. I feel like Merle may have taken him to a whorehouse or two when he was a teen, but then again, Merle was the one with the clap. Maybe that was just Merle's thing and Daryl just hung out with his friends. He didn't even have a bicycle. Daryl needs more hugs.
I kind of like the way he is now, even with his preferences being a mystery, for lack of a better word. The way he thinks of everyone as his family instead of looking for love/lust with one of them like a horny teenager is understandable. (No offense, Glenn and Maggie - that's a bit different!) He didn't have anyone but Merle, really, growing up and now he's got all of these amazing brothers and sisters that he would give his life for, and they would do the same for him - it's nice. It seems like that's what he needs. Carol has been flirty with him, who could blame her, but he's not into it for whatever reason. Could be gayness, could be he's afraid she'll get eaten (look how torn apart he was over Hershel dying - he blamed himself; what would he do if it was his girl/guy that died?). Who knows? Who cares! And I say this as a person who has given a fair amount of thought as to if Daryl even bothers wearing underwear anymore.
In all seriousness, some of the fan pages and fan forums have really taken a vicious turn because of this. It's disheartening and an unwelcome distraction to more important stuff and things. I would much rather discuss what the heck is going on with Beth, apparently being forced to amputate limbs in some kind of involuntary med school, and how Team Lethal Hickey (RIP, Joe) actually end up escaping from Terminus without becoming Unhappy Meals. I don't care if Rick and Michonne get together, although I am very happy that Michonne has bonded with Carl. I don't care about a Beth/Carol/Daryl love triangle or a Daryl/Father Gabriel romance either. Sheesh!!! (But we'll always have Rickyl.) I care about a great story, more of the amazing transitions from comic to screen that Gimple has nailed, the season 5 flood walkers that my future husband Greg Nicotero has once again stepped up his always impressive game on, and watching these characters that I have bonded with over the years surviving and thriving against almost insurmountable odds.
At the end of the day, if Daryl is gay, I don't think the Westboro Baptist Church walkers are going to show up and picket him and neither should the "fans". The ZA has bigger problems. And fangirls, take heart. If it comes down to repopulating, I am sure he would still do his part. He's all about surviving and protecting his family. He adores Little Asskicker. (not sure who is going to be more thrilled she's alive, Rick or Daryl) He'd probably make a fine daddy. Whomever he ends up with, if he does end up with someone, two things are for certain: #1 As NR has said, if Daryl falls in love, he is going to love that person for the rest of his life, and #2 Daryl Dixon is always going to be the motorcycle riding, crossbow wielding, bad ass with a heart of gold we all know and love. He had me at throwing dead squirrels at Rick.