5 Reason’s Why Supernatural is the Gayest Show on Television (That’s Still Stuck in the Closet)
To start with, I’m not delusional. I’m fully aware that the studio and execs have settled into a comfortable pattern with Supernatural, and especially considering it’s heavily mixed demographic (interestingly, it was ranked a favorite among republicans and democrats in 2016) they’re unlikely to rock the ship with a canonically queer relationship between two of it’s main characters.
However, it’s important to understand exactly how much queerness is bubbling beneath the thick surface layer of “no homo:” from the orgies of male-on-male eyesex to the inspiration for most of its main characters, Supernatural is queer to its very core.
Here are five (blaring but stubbornly unacknowledged) reasons why:
1. Dean’s gratuitously bisexual inspiration.
Whenever someone claims a queer interpretation of Dean is baseless, I’m always happy to direct them straight to his flamingly bisexual source: Dean Moriarty, his namesake and direct inspiration, a la the novel On the Road.
Admittedly, I read On the Road and didn’t particularly enjoy it, as I found it to be a somewhat masturbatory reassertion of masculinity for its narrator, Sal Paradise. Sal idolizes and fixates the charismatic Dean and his promiscuous lifestyle, openly having sex with and impregnating multiple women, and is all around a heterosexual power figure…right up until the point at which Dean propositions a male prostitute.
Though he’s never shown doing anything gratuitous with male characters (since the book was published in the 1960s, it wouldn’t have been legal to) it’s clear that Dean is very much bisexual, not ashamed of it, and in terms of personality, very similar to Dean. There are a few key differences (Dean Moriarty, for example, legitimately gives zero fucks about anything, whereas Dean Winchester is secretly a little ball of anxiety with the weight of the world on his shoulders) but it’s clear where Eric Kripke got his inspiration from.
Moreover, Dean Moriarty was in turn based off of the real life bisexual counterculturist Neal Cassady, who among other things had a twenty-year sexual relationship with a male poet. Here, he is pictured in a Denver mugshot:
So next time someone tells you the homoerotic subtext of Supernatural exists only in the imagination of rabid fangirls, remember that Dean is the direct descendant of two ragingly bisexual icons.
2. Castiel (or at least his wardrobe) was also based off of a bisexual character.
For a show so aggressively devoted to a “no homo” interpretation, it has a real propensity to drawing inspiration from queer characters: everyone’s favorite baby in a trench coat, for example, was modeled after the demon-busting John Constantine from the Hellblazer comics. Yup, another bisexual.
Though in true assbutt fashion, his love of men is censored in movie and TV adaptions, Constantine unabashedly swings both ways in paper form – a.k.a. where Kripke found inspiration for Castiel’s look. Here, we see him platonically receiving a man-hug from one of his bros:
So I’m not saying the fact that two out of three main characters are modeled after canonically queer figures could have anything to do with Supernatural’s gratuitous queer subtext, but y’know. It might.
3. Cas himself is sexually complex (and literally cannot be straight.)
Dean has made reference to the fact that he “doesn’t swing that way” (ironically, both of which times he was literally in the midst of blatantly flirting with men.)
Cas, however, has no such reservations: he’s never indicated, vocally or otherwise, a preference towards either gender, so much as outright declaring that he doesn’t give a damn.
He reacts to male and female flirtation much the same way: just try and tell me his suspicious glower and Mick wasn’t similar to Mandy the waitress (and try and tell me they both weren’t acting like they’d like to eat him for dinner.)
Moreover, the only time we’ve seen him ever achieve some kind of intimacy with female characters is when they’re literally throwing themselves at him. Hey, he’s an aesthetically pleasing fellow – or rather, an aesthetically pleasing something.
Which brings me to my next point that he isn’t really a fellow at all: Cas not only gives zero fucks about sexual orientation, he also gives zero fucks about gender. Sure, he’ll spend seven years in the same ill-fitting trench coat, but he’ll also rock a petticoat like nobody’s business.
I’ve discovered that the writer for “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets,” Steve Yockey, is a gay man, which honestly makes it all the more perfect: not only does it establish the Orlando-esque flexibility (or nonexistence) of Cas’s gender, but it eliminates the possibility of his straightness.
And I want Destiel to be canon as much as anybody, but am I opposed to Cas being a genderfluid lesbian? No. No, I am not.
4. Dean can textually be interpreted as bisexual (and probably should be.)
For anyone who questions whether Dean not being straight as an arrow, I’m happy to point out some very canon things that happened on the show:
And yes, when feeling threatened, he’s professed not to swing that way. But you know how many queer people I know who have at one point felt compelled to lie about our sexual orientation? Every single one. And I live in the bluest of blue states – Dean was raised in Bible Belt America and spends most of his time in the Southwest. Not to mention the fact that he was raised during the heat of the AIDS academic.
In other words, he has every logical reason to be wary at the prospect of coming out of the closet, or even acknowledging same sex attraction at all.
Moreover it’s been canonically established that Dean has a habit of lying about himself to protect his image of masculinity: according to Dean, he doesn’t do shorts, chick flicks, cucumber water, skinny jeans and sunglasses, and Taylor Swift music. You know how many of those things he loves? All of them.
Finally, not every member of the cast or crew might agree (though I know for a fact that some of them do) but their interpretations do not effect textuality. And Dean can textually be interpreted as bisexual.
5. Dean and Cas make a better couple than any of their love interests.
I’m going to state something I feel is obvious: Cas and Dean have more buildup, tension, chemistry, emotional connection, and romantic history than literally any of their other interests.
Take Lisa, for example: she’s Dean’s longest lasting introduced as female partner, and she’s introduced as the “bendiest weekend of his life.”
Furthermore, I’d argue that sexual attraction notwithstanding, Dean was never romantically in love with Lisa. To him, she epitomizes his desire for a mother figure, a home, and his lost childhood, as is best demonstrated in his fantasy from “Dream a Little Dream of Me:” Lisa isn’t a seductive or romantic figure here – she’s a maternal one.
Though since Dean has never had a long lasting relationship (or, to my belief, been completely in love with a girl) it’s easy to see how he’d misinterpret these feelings as romantic love.
Then we have Cas, who’s introduced by pulling Dean from the depths of hell, who makes most one-on-one scenes with Dean look like a soft core porno, and who recently (canonically!) declared his love for Dean.
I don’t dislike Lisa, but it’s easy to see which of the two relationships is more three-dimensional, more original, and more worthy of screentime.
“My mind was filled with that great song “Lover Man” as Billie Holiday sings it; I had my own concert in the bushes. “Someday we’ll meet, and you’ll dry my tears, and whisper sweet, little things in my ear, hugging and a-kissing, oh what we’ve been missing, Lover Man, oh where can you be…” It’s not the words so much as the great harmonic tune and the way Billie sings it, like a woman stroking her man’s hair in soft lamp-light.” – Jack Kerouac, On The Road.