Wednesday, “Days of Our Lives” Will (Cbandler Massey) finally came out of the closet, telling his supportive grandmother, Marlena (Deidre Hall) that he is gay. (If you missed it, watch the clip above.) Will’s struggle to come to terms with his sexuality has already been lauded as television’s best coming out storyline yet, and it’s only just beginning.
Last week, DOOL was honored at Outfest, a gay film and television festival. Many of the show’s stars including Massey, Hall, Alison Sweeney (Sami) and Bryan Datillo (Lucas) appeared on a pane before an audience of enthusiastic fans. During the questions and answer period several audience members grew emotional discussing the story including a gay man who said that it gave him a way to talk to his homophobic mother about gay issues and the mother of two gay sons who has watched the show since the 1960s, who felt validated seeing her experience reflected on her favorite soap.
Sweeney revealed that Sami is going to have trouble accepting that Will is gay. “Sami’s reaction is she doesn’t say anything. She runs away. What I love about Sami is she loves her son so much and she just always seems to say the wrong thing. She always puts her foot in her mouth and if it’s possible to mess up a situation, Sami will make that happen….
It was just such an open, vulnerable moment and Sami is like, ‘I’ve got to go. I can’t handle this right now.’ And I think she goes through those Sami things which I think are very common in other ways too because Sami, which is very normal for her, thinks it’s because of her. So what does she do? Actually, it’s a salient point, because Will throws out all of Sami’s love. So she’s not wrong to wonder how she played a role in this. She has to sort through those feelings and talk to lots of people in Salem about it. But luckily Lucas sort of saves the day and is the dad in that moment and is such a hero. She comes crawling back to Lucas. ‘How do I make this right?’”
Lucas, who initially seemed uncomfortable when he saw how close Will was to the openly gay Sonny (Freddie Smith), will support his son. On the red carpet prior to the event Datillo said,”He wants his son to be happy and he knows that eventually it’s going to be a problem. Other people might find it to be a problem and Will might end up going through a certain amount of ridicule but Will’s a strong guy and Lucas knows that he’s got a lot of fight in him. So for Lucas he’s very proud that his son is willing to come forward and tackle such a big issue.”
As for whether Will and Sonny will go from friends to boyfriends, Massey joked, “Well, April 4 Will comes out. April 5, they get engaged. April 6 they get married. April 7, they adopt.” Growing more serious, he said, “You know what? Will and Sonny have such a valuable relationship and I think it does get closer. I can’t say whether it’s platonically or romantically, but they do further develop their relationship.”
The show’s executive producer Greg Meng was equally evasive about Will and Sonny saying , “Well, Sonny is his friend, his mentor and his role model. So it will be interesting to see where we go with that. It’s just got to flow organically, so no promises either direction. We want it to just fall into place right. Right now I see Will and Sonny as sort of a young Starsky and Hutch or even the Hardy Boys where things keep falling into their laps and they’re off to an adventure.”
Will’s other relationship, with his boss/blackmailer/former stepfather E.J. (James Scott) is equally intriguing. An audience member asked about what many fans see as sexual tension between the characters. Massey got one of the biggest laughs of the night when he said that the confusion stemmed in part from the fact that Scott is British, acknowledging that Scott is a handsome guy.
At the reception afterward, Massey said that he does not believe that being open about his sexual orientation will change Will’s relationship with E.J., or his morally ambiguous personality. “You can’t help feeling that he’s stepped into the lion’s den in the DiMera mansion. Coming out doesn’t change that. I think they are making Will more of a grey character.”
Massey’s costars were effusive in their praise of his performance. The humble actor said, “They’re too nice. They’re exaggerating. I’m not that good. But it was amazing. It’s always such a lovely feeling when the people you look up to on your set like Deidre, who for me is so amazing and has always been, to be accepting of your work. It’s awesome.”