Jesus came out on The Walking Dead and it was no big deal

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene, Tom Payne as Paul 'Jesus' Rovia - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene, Tom Payne as Paul 'Jesus' Rovia - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

Jesus came out to Maggie on The Walking Dead “The Other Side” and it wasn’t a main plot point. That’s significant.

In The Walking Dead “The Other Side” fans finally got to find out some of the backstories for characters that have been neglected the last couple of seasons. Rosita got to tell her story to Sasha and Jesus told Maggie a little about his past and revealed that he’s gay.

That’s not a surprise to fans that read the comics. Robert Kirkman confirmed repeatedly that in the show Jesus would be gay like the character is in the comics. And unlike the last time the show revealed a gay male character when fans met Aaron and Eric in season 5, this time there was no boycott threat or internet outrage.  Either the bigots stopped watching, or they have learned to be a little more accepting since season 5.

The Walking Dead is already the most diverse cable show, edging out American Horror Story slightly for having the highest percentage of minority writers and directors as well as a diverse ensemble cast. Now that Jesus has come out there are four main characters that are gay: Tara, Aaron, Eric and Jesus. There were five before Dwight killed Denise. That’s a pretty substantial part of the main cast.

Cable shows are kind of in the middle when it comes to LGBT representation. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are leading the way when it comes to inclusive programming. Cable TV shows are getting better, and broadcast shows are lagging behind. For a show that has the huge reach that The Walking Dead has to continually include LGBT characters is a big deal.

The Walking Dead Gets It Right

One of the most significant things about the way that The Walking Dead presents LGBT characters is that the characters’ sexuality is never a trope or a plot device. On too many other shows gay characters have a big coming out moment that defines their character and defines that character’s story arc moving forward from that point.

On The Walking Dead LGBT characters aren’t defined by their sexuality. Their coming out moments are not the focus of entire episodes and don’t change the way that the other characters interact with them. The characters aren’t treated any differently after their sexuality is revealed.

That’s very significant. Just including LGBT characters in major TV shows isn’t enough. Presenting LGBT characters the way The Walking Dead does normalizes LGBT identities instead of making them stand out as something unusual. When Jesus came out to Maggie it was not a big deal or even a major moment, and that exactly how it should be.

Bury Your Gays and Lesbian Tropes

The CW show The 100 , which stars Fear The Walking Dead’s Alycia Debnam-Carey, kicked off a pretty big controversy last year. It killed off one half of a lesbian couple who were beloved by fans. Just after the couple became official one of the characters was killed off. Fans were enraged.

Some writers like Riese at Autostraddle started doing some research and found that overwhelmingly lesbian characters on TV shows are killed off pretty quickly and suffer gruesome or violent deaths. In fact so many lesbian characters were killed off throughout American TV history that the writers and fans gave the trope of killing off lesbian characters a name: Bury Your Gays.

The Walking Dead doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to lesbian characters. There is only one lesbian character, Tara. There are now three gay male characters, two of which are in one of the most stable and solid relationships in the show. Tara has only had two love interests and both were killed. Her first girlfriend died in the Governor’s assault on the prison. Denise was killed by Dwight.

More from Undead Walking

Of course on a show like The Walking Dead violent death is nothing new. But, it will be interesting to see if The Walking Dead will introduce more lesbian characters moving forward. And maybe someday give Tara a girlfriend that lives. For now though, The Walking Dead remains a stand out show in the way it presents and writes for LGBT characters.