Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is one of the most popular characters on "The Walking Dead," as evidenced by the "If Daryl dies, we riot" movement. The love for Daryl is understandable: Reedus is wonderful as the gentle-soul-meets-crossbow-bearing-bad-ass, and he's helped keep the character both complicated and compelling since the show's start in 2010.
Now, there could be another development: the series creator has hinted that Daryl might be gay.
In an interview with Comicbook.com, Robert Kirkman addressed the topic of Daryl's sexuality, saying that the idea of the character being homosexual has been considered.
"All I can say is that it's been discussed," Kirkman said. "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 crossbowing . . . we'll tackle it in the show."
If Daryl turns out to be gay, that would be great, since there is a serious lack of LGBTQ representation in "The Walking Dead." (And in a lot of other shows -- the AMC zombie show is certainly not alone in that, which is a massive problem, obviously.) But why does Daryl's sexuality need to be "tackled"? Why -- if Daryl was intended to be the gay character -- not just bring it up earlier? Season 2's farmhouse chill session was arguably a "quiet period in the show" (read: it was so boring for so long), as was Daryl's arc with Beth (Emily Kinney) last season.
And OK, sure: Daryl is complicated. His relationship with his brother Merle (Michael Rooker) was abusive and dysfunctional, and Daryl shed a little more light on it last season when he talked about growing up poor and among addict parents. That upbringing isn't conducive to much, let alone embracing one's sexuality -- particularly since Merle's introduction in season 1 painted him as a racist, bigoted drug dealer, and he was the only family Daryl had. Obviously, Daryl coming out (if it happens) won't just be an easy, breezy top 'o the morning announcement. It will need to thread itself into a deeper storyline because Daryl's back story is still such a mystery.
But the strange part is that this is news, as opposed to this development simply adding another layer to Daryl's personality. In fact, that Daryl's sexuality is news proves how much more LGBTQ representation is needed on television. The idea that a character is gay shouldn't shock us, especially since shows like "Orange is the New Black" challenge sexuality and gender stereotypes constantly, just by depicting same-sex relationships as a part of life. Because they are. Creators aren't standing back and saying: "OK, everyone -- so-and-so might be gay! We'll see!"
If Daryl's not gay, that's fine. If Daryl is gay, that's would be great. If more characters on TV were gay, that would be greater. Or, at the very least, it would be nice to less emphasis placed on sexuality, since sexuality is so fluid.
And while it's exciting for shows to finally incorporate more than just a token gay character into their rosters, I look forward to the day when a gay character isn't "controversial" or even news-making. Because what's actually controversial is how hung up we're getting on a character's sexuality.