Tom Payne, whose Jesus was the latest casualty on The Walking Dead, believes an off-screen fling with Aaron (Ross Marquand) “probably” happened during that unseen six-year time jump.
“Yeah, maybe they have like messed around a bit in those six years. Yeah probably,” Payne told CinemaBlend.
“You know, you get bored. But I've always said that I thought it'd be a bit lazy if they got put together, being the only gay guys on the show now. I think that would just be a bit too rote to do that. But yeah, maybe they messed around a bit.”
Some fans called for a Jesus and Aaron coupling after the two were seen engaging in a clandestine but tight friendship in 907, “Stradivarius,” as result of the icy tensions between their communities, Hilltop and Alexandria, which are now participating in a mysterious feud.
By 908, “Evolution,” Jesus was tragically cut down and killed by a disguised member of the Whisperers, leaving Aaron distraught.
Jesus and Aaron went on to become a couple in Robert Kirkman’s comic book series, where both characters are still among the living.
“I liked that they had a friendship, but I felt like a further relationship wasn't necessarily required. I thought it would have been a bit lazy: ‘Here are two gay characters. They should get together!’” Payne told THR after the premiere airing of his deathisode.
“But someone else asked me about the six-year time jump... and I was like, ‘Maybe they did hook up once or twice in those six years!’ Maybe that contributed to their [friendship], but as you do, you just become friends afterward. I could see that happening. But a long-term [relationship]? I’m not sure about that. They have a lot in common, and they did connect in a few different ways. It was nice to have them chatting; their sensibilities were similar. They were quite natural friends.”
Showrunner Angela Kang has since had to defend Jesus’ controversial death after accusations The Walking Dead was engaging in the “bury your gays” trope, pointing to the series’ strong LGBTQ representation in characters like Tara (Alanna Masterson) and series newcomers Magna (Nadia Hilkes) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura).
“It’s been so amazing to be a part of that community and to give visibility as a gay character on one of the biggest television shows ever. It was an amazing responsibility, and I was happy to take it on. But I was disappointed it wasn’t in there more,” Payne told THR.0comments
“It wasn’t ever even explicitly mentioned. [Jesus’ sexual orientation] was just one scene with [Maggie actress] Lauren [Cohan] in season seven. The right people picked up on it; they did recognize it. But you can find people who still don’t realize Jesus was gay. I think they could have been a bit more up front about that.
“While you’ve lost Jesus, you still have Aaron and Tara , and now Magna and Yumiko, so there’s still representation on the show. But it’s a shame. He was such a badass character. They could have made more of it. It’s really Robert Kirkman who was so amazing to do it in the comic books. I was super excited to play that. I wish they made a bigger deal of it. But other storylines take precedent, I guess.”