The debate is finally over: Yes, Jesus is gay. Speculation has swirled around Paul “Jesus” Rovia, the character played by Tom Payne on AMC’s The Walking Dead, ever since he first appeared in its sixth season. Though die-hard fans knew Jesus' full story from the original comic books, the series' creators have kept their incarnation of the savvy warrior sexually ambiguous—until now.
Payne, who knew the truth from the beginning, applauds them for their slow reveal. “I was excited to first establish Jesus as a kick-ass ninja, then have the fact that he happens to be gay dropped in later,” he says. “The way it’s done is subtle. It’s a small moment.”
Unlike Payne snagging his part on the show. The British actor, best known to American audiences for his performances in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day and HBO’s Luck, had been steadily working in Hollywood for years but had yet to find the project that would give him his breakthrough. Then came Dead and a coveted, beloved role on one of the biggest hits on television.
Now that Jesus is joining the ranks of a select few—fictional gay superheroes are still a rarity—he’s set to amass a whole new following. Just don’t expect his friends from the Hilltop to throw him a coming-out bash. “Can you imagine?” Payne says with a laugh. “Like, ‘Hi, guys, I know we’re worrying about the zombie apocalypse, but I need a party.’ ”
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