Noah Schnapp is opening up about his coming-out story. The Stranger Things actor spoke to Variety (pre-strike) about his decision to share his sexuality with the world earlier this year — and how his character Will Byers helped him come to terms with his own sexuality.
“Once I did fully embrace that Will was gay, it was just an exponential speed towards accepting it for myself,” Schnapp told the outlet. “I would be in a completely different place if I didn’t have Will to portray, and to embrace and help me accept myself. I think if I never played that character, I probably would still be closeted.”
In his TikTok coming-out video in January, Schnapp wrote “I guess I’m more similar to will than I thought.” Schnapp told Variety that he made the post during a long drive back from dropping his twin sister off at college and that he went back and forth about posting it.
“I just wanted to put it away and be confident in who I am and know that I don’t have to care what people think anymore,” he said. “When I opened my phone at the end of the car ride, it was, like, a thousand texts of hearts and congratulations and rainbow flags… I was crying. I was like, ‘I made it. I’m done. I don’t have to worry.’”
Schnapp said he would not have come out “any other way” than the cheeky TikTok post he shared, which mirrored some of his other content on the platform, in January.
“When I finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years and all they said was ‘We know,’” he wrote onscreen with a video of himself lip-syncing a viral TikTok sound: “You know what it never was? That serious. It was never that serious. Quite frankly, it will never be that serious.”
Matt Duffer, one of Stranger Things‘ creators, told Variety that Schnapp’s character always had a storyline about coming to terms with his sexuality. When Schnapp read for the role, he “didn’t think twice” about it. “I was so young; I barely even knew what that word meant. And I don’t even think I knew myself that I was gay,” he said.
Schnapp also shared how he came out to some of his friends, including his Stranger Things co-star Millie Bobby Brown. “I kept trying to do it in person with her, and it was too hard,” he said. “So then I just FaceTimed her one day in the middle of a Party City and I was like, ‘Millie, I’m gay.’ And she was like ‘Oh, Schnapper! You told me finally!’”
Earlier in Stranger Things‘ history, Schnapp declined to reveal his character’s sexuality, saying “I find that people do reach to put a label on him and just want to know, so badly… He’s just confused and growing up. And that’s what it is to be a kid,” he previously told Variety.
But last summer, he confirmed in an interview that Will had been wrestling with being gay.
“Now that he’s gotten older, they made it a very real, obvious thing,” he said then. “Now it’s 100% clear that he is gay and he does love Mike. But before, it was a slow arc. I think it is done so beautifully, because it’s so easy to make a character just like all of a sudden be gay.”