I Don’t Think Richie from Stephen King’s IT Is Gay
I was sitting in a movie theater, relaxing to the tale of a murderous, otherwordly clown who eats kids like Cheetos— you know the one — when my son Jace leaned over and whispered,
“It’s pretty cool how they made Richie a coded gay man.”
It took a second for his words to register, distracted as I was by blood exploding out of an on-screen chest. I whispered back that, though I could see how a person might reach that conclusion, Gay Richie (not to be confused with British director Guy Ritchie) probably wasn’t a thing.
Boy, was I wrong.
Google “richie tozier gay,” and you’ll find hundreds of comments, tweets, and subreddits opining on the character’s orientation. Not to mention articles in Variety. Hollywood Reporter. Interviews with Andy Muschietti, who directed both parts of It, and Bill Hader, who played adult Richie. The freaking New York Times:
[W]e learn that Richie Tozier, the fast-talking, foul-mouthed teenager (played by Finn Wolfhard) who grew up to be a popular stand-up comedian (Bill Hader) is gay and has been secretly in love with his friend and fellow club member Eddie Kaspbrak.
At the risk of seeming homophobic, I think we “learn” no such thing. “Learn” implies facts. One learns the 50 state capitals. Or the Pythagorean theorem. Or that the Trump administration consists of Jersey devils in suits.
Gay Richie is a notion. An opinion. An interpretation. One that I, despite my son being transgender, just can’t get behind.
Supporters of Gay Richie point out that the character, in It: Chapter 2, has no wife or girlfriend. That he teases Eddie. That he cries after Eddie is killed and the group abandons his body. That, as a kid, he scratched R+E on the wooden guard rail of the bridge into the Barrens.
Problem is, all these choices can be interpreted in other ways.
- No wife or girlfriend. Neither does Ben (though he does moon over Beverly). Neither does Mike.
- Teases Eddie. We say kids who tease each other must be secretly in love. Do adults resort to this? Besides, Richie…