At the End of The World and on The Other Side of Death: Three Gay Romances on Television That Will Change Your Perception of Love


Foto: 2018 Warn­er Bros. Enter­tain­ment, Inc / Ama­zon Newsroom 


Hid­den among heaps of gener­ic romances in media, these soul-stir­ring por­traits of love find us where we least expect them—at the end of the world, in the adven­tures of anti­heroes and on deathbeds.

“Long, Long Time”—Bill and Frank (The Last of Us)

“Long, Long Time” is the third episode of the U.S.-American post-apoc­a­lyp­tic dra­ma series The Last of Us. While the series plays with famil­iar post-apoc­a­lyp­tic ele­ments, it deliv­ers a unique, com­plex approach to life at the end of the world. “Long, Long Time” shares in this deep explo­ration of love and friend­ship as well as trust and grief in a new, bro­ken soci­ety. In the midst of Joel’s (Pedro Pas­cal) and Ellie’s (Bel­la Ram­sey) search for Joel’s broth­er, they make a detour to self-described ‘sur­vival­ist’ Bill (Nick Offer­man), who has built a ful­fill­ing life with his part­ner Frank (Mur­ray Bartlett) in the gat­ed town of Lin­coln, Mass­a­chu­setts amidst a world wrecked by chaos and disease.

“Long, Long Time” explores what it means to be human, and what and who is ‘worth sav­ing’ in such a dehu­man­ised world in which con­nec­tions can­not usu­al­ly be trust­ed and part­ner­ships hard­ly with­stand the test of time. The episode is filled with soft, ten­der moments of inti­ma­cy, and the authen­tic­i­ty of a love blos­som­ing under nur­ture and devo­tion crawls under your skin as the min­utes rush by. It is the sto­ry of two men who found each oth­er and nev­er left. Between their gig­gles and their heart­break, Nick Offerman’s and Mur­ray Bartlett’s per­for­mances leave a last­ing mark on the soul.

The Last of Us, Sea­son 1 Episode 3, HBO.

“Frances Patrol”—Larry Train­or and John Bow­ers (Doom Patrol)

D.C.’s Doom Patrol is a series nar­rat­ing the lives of sev­er­al anti­heroes and their strug­gles, but nev­er comes short in jokes and friend­ship. The sto­ry of Lar­ry Train­or (Matt Bomer) and John Bow­ers (Kyle Rus­sell Clements, Tom Fitz­patrick) is a tru­ly poignant tale of life­long infatuation—the kind of love which push­es away just to pull in, always orbit­ing around each other’s grav­i­ta­tion­al centre.

Lar­ry was born in 1930s North Dako­ta, and learnt from a young age that he was gay. He went on to mar­ry his wife Sheryl due to the impos­si­bil­i­ty of freely liv­ing his sex­u­al­i­ty dur­ing his life­time. In secret, Lar­ry main­tained an affair with John, one of his Air Force col­leagues. This affair ran deep­er than both could have imag­ined, and Larry’s infat­u­a­tion with John would con­tin­ue for the next six­ty years. In the 1960s, Lar­ry pilot­ed an exper­i­men­tal NASA rock­et plane and was struck by a radioac­tive spir­it as he exit­ed earth’s orbit. Hav­ing suf­fered full body burns and emit­ting lethal radi­a­tion, he only sur­vived due to the spir­it from now on cohab­it­ing in his body. His fol­low­ing years would be char­ac­terised by immor­tal­i­ty, exper­i­men­ta­tion and stir­ring lone­li­ness, trapped in a body that can­not touch and can­not be touched. 

Con­se­quent­ly, Lar­ry spent his life dream­ing of John, a love he could nev­er ful­ly com­mit to out of fear and shame. Haunt­ed by what-ifs and short-lived dreams of burn­ing mem­o­ries, Lar­ry even­tu­al­ly befriends the neg­a­tive spir­it, who in turn fash­ions hal­lu­ci­na­tions for Lar­ry to live in—hallucinations in which he can be with John, be it in the back of his car, in motel rooms or in a dis­cotheque. In these hal­lu­ci­na­tions, John con­fronts him with the painful truth which Lar­ry can­not escape from: ‘Right now, we could go any­where. We could do any­thing, but we can’t. Because even in this dream or what­ev­er the hell this is, you’re still wor­ried about what oth­er peo­ple think. The world has changed, and you’ve stayed the same.’ John asks Lar­ry to admit to him­self that he is inca­pable of change, and tells him that he ‘can­not live his last days like this.’ As Lar­ry seeks out a dying John in real life and finds out he hadn’t been dream­ing alone, he responds: ‘The truth is, I haven’t lived much since the acci­dent. You were the last real thing.’

Doom Patrol, Sea­son 1 Episode 1–11, DC Universe/HBO Max/Prime Video.

“San Junipero”—Kelly and Yorkie (Black Mir­ror)

“San Junipero” is one of television’s most cel­e­brat­ed trag­ic romances and the fourth episode of Black Mirror’s third sea­son. It has been high­ly praised by crit­ics for its over­all pos­i­tive tone com­pared to Black Mirror’s nor­mal­ly rather pes­simistic, dystopi­an out­look on the after­math of society’s increased inte­gra­tion of tech­nol­o­gy. In 1987 shy, adrift Yorkie (Macken­zie Davis) wan­ders the streets of San Junipero, a self-pro­claimed par­ty town in Cal­i­for­nia where life is buzzing with colour­ful neon lights and mag­net­ic peo­ple. In a club, Yorkie meets the self-con­fi­dent Kel­ly (Gugu Mbat­ha-Raw) who, like her, is vis­it­ing San Junipero as a tourist. The two young women strike up a con­ver­sa­tion and Yorkie con­fess­es that she has nev­er been on a dance floor before. ‘Nev­er? As in the-whole-time-you’ve-been-alive-nev­er?’ Kel­ly won­ders. Yorkie shrugs, to which Kel­ly replies, ‘San Junipero is a par­ty town. What would you like to do, what is some­thing you’ve nev­er done? It’s all up for grabs.’ Yorkie men­tions that it will strike mid­night in two hours and they don’t have much time left, where­upon Kel­ly, with­out beat­ing around the bush, sug­gests they should sleep togeth­er, but Yorkie refus­es, lying to Kel­ly about a sup­posed fiancé.

The fol­low­ing week, Yorkie looks for Kel­ly in the night­club, but she is flirt­ing with a young man and seems to ignore her. After Yorkie con­fronts Kel­ly in the restroom, the two decide to go home and final­ly sleep togeth­er. Yorkie con­fess­es that she has nev­er slept with any­one, ‘nev­er with a woman…never with any­one. No one nowhere’, and com­ments on how absurd it would be for her fam­i­ly to see how much she enjoys her life in San Junipero. Kel­ly opens up about her bisex­u­al­i­ty and her ex-hus­band when the scene abrupt­ly ends.

When Yorkie looks for Kel­ly again a week lat­er and can’t find her, one of Kelly’s friends advis­es her to ‘try a dif­fer­ent time. 80s, 90s, 2002 one time. She’s worth a shot, right?’ Anoth­er week pass­es before Yorkie final­ly finds Kel­ly in the year 2002. But Kel­ly is not at all pleased to be found. ‘What are you doing here?!’ she snaps after Yorkie con­fronts her about hid­ing in the ear­ly 2000s, an era that does not seem to be Kelly’s vibe at all. Kel­ly clar­i­fies that she’s vis­it­ing San Junipero to have fun and that Yorkie is ruin­ing it now. Yorkie storms out of the club and Kel­ly finds her on a roof a lit­tle lat­er. Wor­ried, she fol­lows Yorkie onto the roof. ‘How many of them do you think are dead?’ Yorkie asks, look­ing down on San Junipero’s par­ty crowd. ‘The full-timers?’ Kel­ly repeats. ‘About 80.’ She even­tu­al­ly sits down next to Yorkie and explains that she is ill and has only a short time to live. ‘I told myself I wouldn’t do feel­ings. I wasn’t pre­pared for some­one like you’, she apol­o­gis­es. The two engage in a pas­sion­ate kiss.

A lit­tle lat­er, look­ing out across the ocean, Yorkie shares her belief of being firm­ly con­vinced that with­out San Junipero she would nev­er have had the expe­ri­ences she had with Kel­ly. ‘Try me’, the lat­ter replies. ‘I don’t want you to see me,’ Yorkie objects. ‘I’m dying’, Kel­ly answers, ’What­ev­er you are can­not scare me. I want to say hi.’

In the real world, Kelly—now in her old age—is con­front­ed with the truth about Yorkie. She is faced with a daunt­ing and poignant choice. She must decide between the real world, where her hus­band and deceased daugh­ter are buried, and San Junipero, an ‘immer­sive nos­tal­gic ther­a­py, a world of mem­o­ries’, a sim­u­la­tion in which one’s con­scious­ness can be uploaded after death. A dream world, real and arti­fi­cial at the same time, which would allow Yorkie, who has been unre­spon­sive­ly con­fined to her hos­pi­tal bed since an acci­dent fol­low­ing her com­ing out at 21, to catch up on her entire life—side by side with Kel­ly, who isn’t pre­pared to give up on liv­ing herself.

Black Mir­ror, Sea­son 3 Episode 4, Netflix.

EDITED By Jan Kabasci.

Mer­cy Fer­rars is a MA grad­u­ate in phi­los­o­phy and writes fic­tion, poet­ry and non-fic­tion essays. She is mad­ly in love with Scot­land, dogs and Bojack Horseman.