“I kept trying to do it in person with her, and it was too hard,” Schnapp, 18, told Variety in an interview published on Monday, August 7. “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!’”
After telling his closest family and friends — including his “ecstatic” twin sister, Chloe — Schnapp came out to the public via a TikTok video in February.
In the clip, the actor posted footage of himself lip-synching to a woman saying, “You know what it never was? That serious,” with a text overlay reading, “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.’”
The caption read: “I guess I’m more similar to Will than I thought.”
Speculation that Schnapp’s Stranger Things character, Will Byers, might be queer began in season 1 of the Netflix series, which premiered in 2016. Schnapp later confirmed the teen is gay and in love with best friend, Mike Wheeler (Finn Wolfhard), — who is currently dating Eleven (Brown), — after the season 4 premiere in May 2022.
It wasn’t until season 3, however, that Schnapp started really considering Will’s sexuality — something that ultimately helped him understand his own.
“Once I did fully embrace that Will was gay, it was just an exponential speed towards accepting it for myself,” he told Variety. “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.”
Schnapp, who was cast in Stranger Things at the age of 10, explained that he was too “young” in the first two seasons of the sci-fi series to really understand the concept of sexual identity.
“I didn’t really think twice about it,” he said. “[I don’t] even think I knew myself that I was gay.”
Things changed when Schnapp confirmed Will’s queerness in season 4 and received such a positive response. “It kind of blew up in the press, and everyone was like, ‘Oh, Will’s gay! Hooray!’” he said. “I saw all these comments on Instagram and TikTok. There was not one bad thing about him being gay. I was like, if he has all this support, then why should I worry about anything?”
Now that both Schnapp and Will are out, the way the actor approaches the final season of Stranger Things will likely change.
“I think the way I act in Season 5, honestly, might be a little different,” he said. “I will be fully aware of who I am. Knowing all of that about myself and being able to invest that in my character, I’m honestly just excited.”
Being so acutely tuned in to his character’s emotional state will likely be essential for Schanpp while filming season 5, the show’s final installment. Stranger Things creators, brothers Ross and Matt Duffer, plan on making Will the focus of the finale.
“This emotional arc for [Will] is what we feel is going to hopefully tie the whole series together,” Ross told Variety. “Will is used to being the young one, the introverted one, the one that’s being protected. So part of his journey, it’s not just sexuality — it’s Will coming into his own as a young man.”