DARYL DIXON AND THE IMPORTANCE OF GAY REPRESENTATION IN HORROR

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Over the course of THE WALKING DEAD‘s wildly successful four seasons, no other character has earned as much adoration or fan praise than Daryl Dixon. (Unless of course you count the “Corl” meme.)  Whether it’s the popular “If Daryl Dies, We Riot” mentality or the sold out $325 tickets for the “Norman Reedus VIP Experience” at Chicago Comic-Con, there’s no denying that Daryl Dixon is one of the most prominent figures in genre television.  After four seasons and gearing up for a fifth, fans have been questioning why Dixon hasn’t ever had a romantic relationship with any of the other female characters despite developing very strong friendships.  Is it because Dixon decided that the zombie apocalypse shouldn’t be used as a free-for-all admission to pound town, or is he gayTHE WALKING DEAD comic creator, Robert Kirkman, recently weighed in on the option stating:

“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.”

So, there you have it. Daryl Dixon might be gay.  Now, here’s where the important stuff comes out to play.  Why is everyone making such a big deal about the sexual orientation of a fictional character?  Well, if Daryl Dixon turns out to be a gay character…it’s a pretty fucking important.

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First of all, representation is a huge deal.  The reason so many stereotypes and stigmas exist towards groups of people, are because they’re enforced by the media.  A lot of people 100% believe that just because something is presented to them, it makes it factual.  The amount of people “fooled” by satire sites like The Onion are walking proof that people can sometimes be really, really stupid.  Look at the way the media is currently handling the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.  The news outlets are reporting of looting, rioting, and violence in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, but the truth being circulated around social media would paint a very different story.  Representation. Is. Important.  When it comes to a character like Daryl Dixon, he as a gay character would be a momentous advancement for gay representation in the media.  THE WALKING DEAD is one of the most popular shows on television and its success is arguably the reason the horror genre is starting to be taken a little more seriously.  Daryl Dixon is a beloved character not just by horror fans, but by fans all over the world from all different backgrounds.  The LGBTQ community struggles deeply with being represented as stock characters, stereotypes, or just completely excluded.  If Daryl Dixon is gay, that would mean a gay character is being presented to the masses where his sexuality does not define his character, his motives, his situations, or his relationships with those around him.  To put in simply, his sexuality wouldn’t be the basis for who he is and the only thing people are seeing about him.  That’s HUGE.

darylbethI may not fully understand the obsession many females have with Daryl Dixon, but I won’t deny the fact he’s a bonafide badass.  For some reason, the major figureheads behind arts and entertainment are afraid of allowing their strong male characters to also be gay.  There was a huge upset earlier this year when NBC announced that the portrayal of the well-known bisexual character John Constantine would not be written as such for his new show.  Despite having 30 years of documented comic evidence, NBC is choosing to erase Constantine’s sexual fluidity. With the exception of Jack Harkness on TORCHWOOD, there are very few mainstream gay male characters that aren’t presented as stock or stereotypical.  Daryl Dixon would be a total gamechanger.  Better yet, what if Daryl Dixon doesn’t have a sexual preference at all?  What if he’s asexual? Even better.

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While it is possible the “shippers” of Daryl/Carol may not ever get to see their relationship come to fruition, Daryl’s sexuality is still just speculation. I totally understand the argument about romance being the last thing on anyone’s mind during a zombie apocalypse, but what is most important is that Daryl wouldn’t be a token gay character, he’d be a character who happens to be gay.  His sexuality has been treated as something as banal as heterosexuality, and that’s a great message to send to a wider audience.

Oh, and just because Beth had a major crush on Daryl doesn’t mean he was into her. Damn.

Comments
20 Responses to “DARYL DIXON AND THE IMPORTANCE OF GAY REPRESENTATION IN HORROR”
  1. Jean-François Martel says:

    I don’t watch the show, but i appreciate that the writers have actually discussed the possibility of him being gay. There are so many shows that use the “are they, are they not” queerbaiting technique to give hope to queer audiences and bring in viewers without having ever seriously discussed the possibility (the worst offender being Supernatural, about Dean’s bisexuality). This is a nice change, now they need to fix their race and gender problems i have been reading about forever, but that’s a step in the right direction.

  2. BJ Colangelo says:

    If you’re only watching a show because you enjoy that a fictional character is heterosexual, you’re watching the show for all the wrong reasons. As far as your comment is concerned, you need to be aware of some facts.

    I hope you realize that in 2013-2014, only 3.3% of the characters on major television shows were of the LGBTQ spectrum. It actually went down 1.1% from 2012.

    Among the 796 series regulars counted this year across 109 prime time scripted television programs on the five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW,Fox and NBC), 26 are LGBT, (a decrease from last year’s 31), while 770 are non-LGBT (97%).

    So, I can promise you…there aren’t gays on “every freaking show or movie.”

    source: http://www.glaad.org/files/2013WWATV.pdf

    • BJ Colangelo says:

      Maybe you don’t want to see a gay love story, but I sure do. I guess that makes me a somebody if nobody wants to see gay love stories!

  3. jantzen Duley says:

    I agree with Kat she’s right. Why would you make him gay he’s a crossbow carrying buck knife loving deer and especially walker Hunter. Who should like BABES.

  4. Pax Romano says:

    I hope Daryl is indeed gay. If for no other reason than to enjoy that sound of homophobic Walking Dead fans’ heads exploding. The rest of us, meanwhile, will just nod our heads and be thankful that he is not just another stereotype.

  5. Justin Graves says:

    Don’t you love how you discussed the stupidity of people in the body of your article and said people show up afterwords and obliviously bitch and whine?

    This comment “…he’s a crossbow carrying buck knife loving deer and especially walker Hunter. Who should like BABES.” that just proves how badly none stereotypical portrayals of LGBT people are needed in media. I’ve known camouflage wearing, country listening, truck driving gay men. Yet middle America is oftentimes only presented one, horribly outdated image of the community.

    Sadly, some people on this thread needs to be told about the wonders of media and how it has the ability to change hearts and minds and open eyes. Some people on this needs to be told about how gay men and women are just as diverse as any other human being walking the planet. some people on this needs to be informed that not all gay men are fashion obsessed, Streisand listening, diva worshiping, swishing, living stereotypes.

    Yet media’s stranglehold on one idea of gay peoples remains. It reminds me of how “girl power” replaced feminism years ago. Take a movement or gender or people, strip it of its power and legitimacy, mass market and sell it back to the public in a neutered form, devoid of any real power to change. Sell the illusion of progress and change while they pull sleight of hands and work against it.

    I was discussing this whole thing at length on my page and on Cinema Blend’s post about it yesterday (the comments are, as expected, horrible) and I kept thinking “You know who needs to weigh in here? Openly gay Ultimate Fighter Dakota Cochrane. Not only does he squash all these stereotypes that gay men are incapable of being tough but he could wipe the floor with and bend these bigots into pretzels if he chose to.”

    Anyway, good piece

  6. Justin Graves says:

    Also, lady fans who are outraged that the fantasy they’ve been sold won’t materialize, get over it. He’s a fictional character, and isn’t going to sleep with you, followed by riding off into the sunset on his motorcycle, blasting zombie brains along the way. Ever. Because it and he is a fictional creation.Norman Reedus is also not going to sleep with you, because he’s a celebrity and you live in Hogjaw, Arkansas.
    Get over it.

  7. Justin Graves says:

    I can’t interpret the inevitable backlash of “why is this news?” “why did they feel the need to say this?” etc as anything other than homophobia and discrimination.
    “Why is this news?” to me, really means, “Why don’t you just shut up? I don’t want to hear things you view as important.”
    To me it’s more “I know my views are increasingly in the minority and are viewed with distaste by most people reading this. I can’t openly oppose this person, so the best I can do is try to quash their voice.”
    As long as people can’t express the wholeness of who they are, it allows bigots to pin you as JUST your sexuality. When people don’t know or acknowledge LBGT people as real humans with real, full lives, they can other them as being perverts. That’s why they want people to shut up. Or one of the reasons.
    And the reality is that heterosexuals announce their sexuality every day, as they should. When they have a picture of their spouse on their desk at work, they announce their sexuality. When they walk hand in hand with their lover….when they tell their coworker they’re taking their girl out after work…when they say their wife makes delicious beef stew…
    “Sexuality isn’t anyone else’s business” is a demand to hide. To take all of those very human aspects and interactions and silence them to make other people comfortable. Heterosexuals don’t believe it’s no one else’s business…again, if they did, the they wouldn’t announce it casually, thoughtlessly, and constantly. “Who cares” is a flagrant lie, and every time someone comes out with it, I wait for the next time they casually announce their sexuality and say something like “Wait…why are you telling me this? I thought it was none of my business and I wasn’t supposed to care.”

  8. Justin Graves says:

    Finally, this is all I ever really wanted in regards to gay characters in the genre. Capable, non-stereotypical, human outside their sexuality, their gay identity the least important aspect of their characterization (unless they are snogging a dude, which I’m not opposed to). I think that is what most gay horror fans want and what media, honestly needs. Sorry, I just don’t relate to the chiseled, mostly nude pretty boys that fill the casts in most gay / genre projects (nor can I abide the horrible writing). I also don’t relate to the stereotypical gay “comedy” relief that the OTHER half of queer horror cinema portrays. Dear screenwriters, you job isn’t to sell us beautiful bodies or cram outdated stereotypes down our throats, your job is to pen good screenplays and craft believable, relatable, human characters. I know that that is easier said than done (Clive Barker had been attempting to make a horror film with a gay lead for eons but studios constantly shut him down unless it was ABOUT him being gay, he couldn’t JUST BE…) but start trying harder. Please.
    If Daryl is revealed to be gay, the fact that we’ve had four seasons with him and he’s had an identity outside of such thing is what strikes me as important. Gay folks can fire crossbows, be heroes, they ride motorcycles, argue with their brothers, protect their friends and family and I imagine, hypothetically, kick zombie ass. That is the kind of gay character the genre needs. One that JUST IS.

  9. Jean-François Martel says:

    A lot of the comments kinda look like the same person commented multipe times under different names lol.

    • Jerry Smith says:

      They were. We’re all for discussion on here, but if people are going to get vicious, they’ll be banned. The individual might have been a bit less obvious, had they realized that we can see that the exact same IP Address left all of the hateful, and very mean comments.

  10. Kagutaba says:

    Hey Drake, I just want to let you know that there are places out there where you can get help. It’s not your fault that you’re a pedophile homophobe with social interaction disorder.

    You can google B4U-ACT, they’re a support group for trolls who look at kid porn through public wifi near playgrounds on school property.

    If nothing else, you should contact RighteousParents.org. They’ll willingly take your life in exchange for a prison sentence because their children were brutally raped & murdered and they want to do their part in making the world safer for parents whose kids are still alive. I think you have to be in a state that doesn’t have the death penalty to qualify.

    Either way, I strongly urge you to seek professional assistance for your condition of existing. Preferably suicide by cop, or replying to a personal ad from cannibals looking for consensual participants willing to be eaten.

  11. Drake II says:

    Drake is dumb.

  12. Sophia Lazarakis says:

    Agree Felicia can’t be gay.SOMEONE EEELSE

  13. Ralph Snart says:

    All that matters is the bottom line. What moral decision someone thinks is the right way to go or regardless of anyone’s views on what the role’s sexuality is. This will never happen if they think substantial dollars would be lost. And no matter what some may wish , America is still what it is. And that is a racists , sexist , bigoted , hypocritical society (with some exceptions of course). Though frankly the show has moved at a snails pace for a couple years now as I found I watched last season not so much because it was good but much like when I watched Dexter because I already put in the years so why stop now. If I had just walked in I don’t know if I would have returned for another episode. And for christ’s sake tell someone we don’t need a god damn “talking &*@#” show for everything.

  14. DeanD says:

    He’s absolutely right. But I’d also like to add that representation is important for everybody! Every single person deserves to see themselves reflected on both the big and small screen. And representation is absolutely necessary too, especially for the sake of dramatic, inclusive and compelling story-telling.

  15. Jonathan Turner says:

    Why hasn’t this drake asshole been banned ? I’ve been here 3 minutes and I wanna smash his face. 53 hetero male w kids and (gasp) job here. If you’d quit watching the show because of that, good riddance.

  16. John Marquez says:

    Every????
    Yes,EVERY show on television has a gay character on it.
    it sucks! EVERY show needs to stop putting gay characters on them.
    Every single show! Wow! Every???

  17. John Marquez says:

    Idiot

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