Stranger Things fans finally know that Will Byers is gay, but there were signs throughout the series pointing toward this. There has been speculation about Will’s sexuality, and even more so in season 4. While the Duffer Brothers wouldn’t confirm one way or another, Noah Schnapp did confirm “he is gay, and he does love Mike” in July 2022 (via Variety). He also said it was a “slow arc” before season 4.
It was indeed a slow arc before Stranger Things season 4. There were things here and there that hinted at Will being gay, but it was easy to overlook them because they’re kids. Also, there was a lot of more pressing things going on each season. It wasn’t front and center in the way it was in season 4. In addition, Will is in high school in season 4, so it makes sense that he will be realizing his sexuality more than he was in middle school. Here are eight hints that Stranger Things gave viewers that Will was gay.
8 Will Rejects A Girl That’s Flirting With Him
In the season 4 premiere, a girl rubs her foot on his during class, but Will looks very uncomfortable and pulls away. Since it was early in the season, it could have easily been disregarded as Will being his awkward self. But in hindsight, it was clear he didn’t want this kind of attention from a female.
7 Will Is The Only One That Doesn’t Have A Girlfriend
Will doesn’t have much experience dealing with girls, except for Eleven and Max in Stranger Things, and he didn’t really like them at first, either. That could also be an excuse for why he rejected the girls’ advances. But everyone in the Party has a girlfriend, including Dustin. While Lucas and Dustin were infatuated with Max when she came into town, Will could care less about her. He hasn’t shown any interest in having a girlfriend like his friends.
It could be argued that he’s young and doesn’t have to be interested in girls yet, but this was probably foreshadowing his true sexuality. He didn’t like that his friends were getting girlfriends. He wanted everything to stay the same.
6 Will Tells Joyce He’s Not Going To Fall In Love
In the season 3 premiere, Jonathan is running out the door late for work, and Joyce wipes lipstick off his face. Will calls that gross, but Joyce tells him he won’t think it’s gross when he falls in love. Will said he wasn’t going to fall in love. Again, it could just be construed as he wasn’t interested in girls yet. But that’s why fans looked over it. In reality, he didn’t think he would fall in love because he didn’t like girls; he liked boys and didn’t see an example for him to live that kind of life.
It’s much more heartbreaking when thinking about him not seeing a future for himself as opposed to just not thinking about it yet. Maybe now that the signs are more evident, the writers can write a happier outlook for him. But of course, Will has to survive Stranger Things‘ Vecna first.
5 “It’s Not My Fault You Don’t Like Girls” – Mike
Also, in season 3, Mike tells Will, “It’s not my fault you don’t like girls,” when they’re arguing. The writers threw it right in viewers’ faces, and still, it was overlooked. After learning the truth about Will, this scene hits differently. It’s glaring, and it’s hard to believe that, at that point, no one caught on.
4 Will Chose Alan Turing As His Hero For Class Project
With El’s project being made fun of, it’s easy to overlook that Will chose Alan Turing for his hero project in the Stranger Things season 4 premiere. Turing is a fascinating historical figure. He invented the modern computer. He helped end World War II. He was also gay, and unfortunately, he lived in a time that it wasn’t acceptable. It makes sense that Will looked up to this man. He felt he was going through a similar situation. While the 80s were much better than the 40s and 50s, it was still not widely acceptable to come out as gay.
3 Joyce Said His Dad Called Him Queer, And Hopper Asked: “Is He?”
The Duffer Brothers were hinting at Will’s sexuality back in the pilot. When Will went missing, Joyce went to Jim Hopper to report him missing. Hopper, of course, brushed it off as a kid just playing hooky from school. But Joyce says Will wasn’t like Hopper or herself. She said the kids made fun of him, and his father called him “queer.” Hopper replies with, “Is he?” Joyce deflected the question with “He’s missing.”
The writers put it out there from the first episode but didn’t confirm or deny it. But also, the way Hopper asked his question wasn’t accusing. It was just a matter of fact. Stranger Things was setting this up. Instead of a slow-burn relationship, it was a slow burn of Will realizing his sexuality. It seems like Joyce knew all along, but there was some fear in her voice of what that would mean. Not that she would be upset when Will comes out, just because of what he would face. She’s always been very protective of him.
2 Conversation With Mike In The Van
One of the clearest signs of Will’s sexuality was his conversation with Mike in Stranger Things season 4, episode 8. Will gives Mike a pep talk when he’s feeling insecure about his relationship with El, but he’s not looking directly at Mike when he says the words. He’s looking away and said, “These last few months, she’s been so lost without you…she’s so different from other people, and when you’re different, sometimes you feel like a mistake.” He brakes down crying when he says these words, and Jonathan is watching and appears to understand what these words really mean.
This was the biggest indicator of how Will felt. He was actually talking about himself, not El. That’s why Will couldn’t look at Mike when he was talking to him. It’s a heartbreaking scene for viewers because they realize Will is in love with Mike, but he’s helping him with his relationship with El because he feels like he can’t tell Mike how he feels.
1 Heart-To-Heart With Jonathan
Jonathan speaks to Will in the season 4 finale. He tells Will that he misses Will talking to him and that “things are getting complicated” and “I’m here.” Jonathan’s words let Will know that he knows and can tell him when he’s ready. It’s a beautiful moment between the brothers. It’s a perfect segue from him looking back at Will, knowing what Will actually means, and then letting him know it’s okay— that he accepts him.
It should reason that Jonathan will be the first person Will comes out to in Stranger Things season 5. Now that Noah has confirmed Will’s sexuality, the Duffer Brothers must address it even more in the final season. There needs to be a full circle moment from Joyce hinting at his sexuality to Will being proud of who he is.