Since season 1 of Stranger Things, the show has dropped subtle hints that Will Byers might be gay. After Will disappeared in season one, Joyce told Hooper that his abusive dad bullied him. “He’s a sensitive kid,” Joyce said. “Lonnie [Will’s father] used to say he was queer, called him a fag.”
Season 2 placed Will’s sexuality on the back burner, as the show prioritized other characters’ love stories. However, right at the end of season 2, the show dropped another hint as the script revealed how each character was feeling during the Snowball dance.
“Will with the Cute Girl, dancing awkwardly. But his eyes aren’t on the cute girl. They are on… Mike.”
Mike hinted that Will might be gay by mentioning that Byers doesn’t like girls
The conversation about Will’s sexuality ramped up following an argument between him and Mike. During the third episode of season 3, Will attempted to initiate a game of Dungeon and Dragons, but his buddies didn’t seem interested in playing.
Frustrated, Will stormed out, prompting Mike to chase after him. In no uncertain terms, Will clarified that he disapproved of Mike’s relationship with Eleven. He said:
“You’re destroying everything, and for what? So you can swap spit with some stupid girl?”
“El’s not stupid,” Mike responded. “It’s not my fault that you don’t like girls.” Excited fans flooded Twitter, taking Mike’s statement as a confirmation that Will is queer. However, in subsequent interviews, actors Finn Wolfhard (Mike) and Noah Schnapp (Will) suggested that Mike’s statement had nothing to do with Will’s sexuality.
“There were a lot of different versions of that scene,” Finn told The Hollywood Reporter. “We tried, ‘It’s not my fault you don’t like girls yet.’ So, we did a bunch of different things to it. I don’t even know if it had to do with Will’s sexuality. I think Mike was just mad and listing off a genuine fact that he’s not interested.”
Noah told The Wrap that Mike ‘kind of just interprets it like he’s not ready to grow up and he doesn’t really want to move on to dating and relationships yet.’
The actors’ statements did little to quell speculation about Will’s sexuality. If Finn had his way, the show wouldn’t answer the lingering question in fans’ minds. He wrote on Instagram:
“A good book, or a good show leaves a lot of unanswered questions but makes you think. Which is what all of you are doing. That is why I think the Duffers wrote the show the way they did. So you can ask all these questions. I hope the real answer never comes out!”
Fans suspect that Will has romantic feelings toward Mike
Thankfully, it feels like the show will reveal Will’s sexuality. In episode one, Will appeared repulsed by a girl’s attempt to rub her foot on his leg.
Eleven then speculated that the painting Will was working on was for someone special. “I think there is someone he likes because he is acting weird,” Eleven narrated. Will brought the painting to the airport to hand it to Mike but failed to go through with it.
Opposers of the gay theory suggested that Mike harbored feelings for Eleven. However, in an interview for Netflix, David Harbour shut down those rumors and hinted at a romantic arc for Mike in season 4.
“If you’ve been watching the show you should know that Will is not interested in El,” David said. “He’s interested in someone else in the group. He’s very interested.”
We posit that Mike’s feelings for Will have turned romantic, but Byers worries that the feelings are one-sided. Mike tells Will in episode five:
“Sometimes I think it’s scary to just open up like that. To say how you really feel. Especially to people you care about the most. Because what if… what if they don’t like the truth?”
The second part of season 4 should give us the answer we crave. Digital Spy asked Finn Wolfhard whether Will’s feelings for Mike had turned romantic. Finn said: “Yeah. I think you find out slowly through the season. Will’s kind of love towards Mike and I think it’s a really beautiful thing.”