Debuting last season, Paul Rovia, nicknamed Jesus, has carved out a nice spot for himself on ‘The Walking Dead’. Though he is a longtime resident of the Hilltop, he has established that he does not respect the authority of the cowardly Gregory. Not only has Jesus proven to be a faithful ally to Rick, he has been a staunch supporter of Maggie and Sasha since they have taken up residence in the Hilltop. With his hand-to-hand combat skills and stealthy acrobatic abilities, he has proven his value to the group, particularly when he helped free Daryl from the Saviors’ compound and stole a Savior walkie talkie to keep tabs on their enemies.
In this past episode, ‘The Other Side’, viewers learned more about Jesus’ past that they had before. While talking with Maggie, Jesus says he grew up in a group home and has always had trouble establishing connections to others, “neighbors, friends, boyfriends…” Yep, Jesus is gay.
Of course, readers of the comics may have had an inkling, as the character (named Paul Monroe in that version) was also revealed to be gay in the book, but like on the show, the reveal was held off for some time until the character had established himself and his popularity.
Tom Payne, the actor who plays Jesus commented on the reveal:
“I love how that was handled in the script and in the episode. I knew that it was never going to be a huge deal. Listen, it’s the end of the world. Do you really think we’re going to be worried about things like that?”
“I’m really happy about it, actually. I knew before we filmed it, because he is [gay] in the comic books, and I didn’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be in the show, and I talked to Robert Kirkman about it, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, of course, it’s the same guy.’ So it’s really cool to be representing that community in such an awesome, action, kick-ass role. I’m excited.”
Kirkman discussed his creation of the character, calling it an “obligation.” He said:
“I mean, it couldn’t be more important. I think representation in all forms of all media of all different types of people is something that as creative people, we should always strive to do. And you know, I think that’s something that as a creative person, it’s something that you’re absolutely, 100 percent obligated to do.”
“It’s something that is very important to us, and we’re very happy that we’re able to have this really awesome gay character on the show that people can look up to, that people can aspire to, that does really great things.”
“And also, the storylines aren’t about him being gay. You’re not being beaten over the head by it, it’s not the focus. His character is so much more than his sexuality, just like people are in real life.”
Of course, Jesus isn’t the first gay character on ‘The Walking Dead’. The first major gay character was Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) who originally had a girlfriend named Alisha. Both were part of The Governor’s squad. More recently, she was romantically involved with Denise Cloyd, who was killed while Tara was away on the scavenging mission that led her to discover the Ocean Side settlement. There’s also Aaron (Ross Marquand), the scout from Alexandria who has become a major part of the crew. He has been with his boyfriend Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson) since before the Walker outbreak and Eric also appears periodically on the show.
When Aaron and Eric kissed on one episode, bigots on the internet exploded with outrage.
Jesus has already proven to be a more pivotal character with heavier ties to the main storyline than either Tara or Aaron. But how many gay characters does one show need? Does Jesus’ coming out spell doom for one of the others? That remains to be seen, but usually, when a major character is killed off, they get a bit of a heavier focus and neither has really had that, beyond Tara’s connection to Ocean Side.
What do you think of this reveal? Is it really that important? Or are you done with ‘The Walking Dead’ and all its gayness?