Daryl's sexuality and romantic life
I am one of those people who has been watching TWD from the beginning. And I’ve read Daryl as gay pretty early on. I considered it a possibility in season one simply because we didn’t have a gay character at that point and I thought Daryl may end up being gay as his sexuality was undefined (unlike everyone else). Season two was what really made me think that Daryl was gay. The episode when he’s searching for Sophia and he starts hallucinating Merle, and Merle calls him Darlene and challenges his masculinity made me really wonder. We know that Daryl was abused, and there are many reasons he could have been but the fact that he feels insecure about being seen as feminine is worth noting. We see the same thing when Merle meets Rick and calls Daryl his bitch.
So, Daryl has an abusive past, and we don’t entirely know if there were specific reasons he was abused.
Season 2-4 we see Daryl become close with two different women, but he never expresses romantic or sexual interest in either one of them. Obviously Beth is dead now, but with Carol there’s still ZERO romantic or sexual tension/chemistry between them. They’re close friends, but unlike with richonne, it doesn’t feel like their friendship is building up to anything more.
And now let’s move forward a bit to the last couple of seasons. The group moves into Alexandria. Daryl, predictably, doesn’t fit in. In fact, he only ever interacts with his own people and doesn’t make an effort to socialize with anyone from the safe zone. Oh, except for Aaron, Eric, and Denise. Obviously I understand that gay people don’t only hang out with other gay people, but it’s an interesting character choice to have Daryl bonding only with the LGBT members of ASZ and no one else.
And then we meet Jesus. The first people he interacts with are Daryl and Rick. That entire episode’s interaction is like a ridiculous post-apocalyptic meet-cute (and clearly Rick ships it😉). Fast forward one episode later, and directly after the group scene with Jesus, Abraham approaches Daryl and asks if he’s ever going to find someone to settle down with. This is HUGE. No one has ever asked Daryl about that kind of stuff. No one has ever questioned him on romantic prospects. And it’s interesting that Abraham uses a gender neutral term as opposed to saying something like “are you ever gonna find a nice woman”. The writers are drawing attention to Daryl’s romantic/sexual life. There needs to be a reason for that.
After this, Daryl and Jesus are separated for quite a while. But the first time they separate, Daryl is with Denise and Rosita and Jesus is with Tara and Gabriel. And again this is interesting because both Denise and Tara talk about their relationship and romance (Denise to Daryl and Rosita, Tara to Jesus and Gabriel). Denise make an impassioned death speech about not letting fear stop you from going after what you want and pursuing what makes you happy.
And then what? Well Daryl gets taken by Negan’s group, Jesus ends up there for reconnaissance, and stays behind to help Daryl escape. And we are specifically shown that Daryl is why Jesus stays. Like that man had his ticket out and the moment he realized Daryl was there, he is off that damn truck. Then last week, Jesus casually comes out. It was done in such an innocuous way but at least alerts audiences who may not be familiar with the comic to his preferences. And it doesn’t do so the way it does in the comic, where we are made privy to Jesus’ sexuality by meeting his boyfriend. There may be an Alex, but if so, we haven’t met him. Now this week, he and Daryl are basically attached at the hip. i’m not saying that pairing the two up on missions means that they are going to hook the characters up. But they are teaming Daryl and Jesus up at least and getting the audience used to seeing them together.
I’m not saying this means definitively that they are going to make this Canon. I have major doubts that they will. But I am saying that narrative foreshadowing is supportive of a relationship between Daryl and Jesus. The writers have now gone out of their way seven seasons in to actually draw attention to Daryl’s lack of a romantic life (via Abraham and Denise). To me something like that is only brought up if it’s going to be resolved. And my question is, who is Daryl going to be with? The only woman he has ever really shown any closeness to is Carol, but he’s never shown attraction toward her. And I find it highly unlikely that some rando woman is going to just appear and make Daryl suddenly go gaga. That really wouldn’t fit with what we know of him.
The writers may deny it, but they’ve certainly done a nice subtle job of setting up a possible Daryl/Jesus romance.
(Also a little side note about Daryl’s sexuality: I also think both Carol and Rick know, even if Daryl has never actually come out to them officially. Carol making that joke at the prison about she and Daryl hooking up and then later her bunk bed comments when they were on the road are just so winky. And with Rick there’s literally no reason for him to be all nudge nudge when it comes to Jesus.)