For years the characters of Billy Loomis and Stu Macher from Scream (1996) have been the subject of semi-serious speculation that the partners in murder were also partners in love — or at least partners in lust at some point. What has never been clear is whether the homoerotic undertones of Scream were intentional. Were Billy in Stu in love at the time of the murders? Or had Billy, a psychopathic narcissist, manipulated Stu to do his bidding, using a relationship in order to gain control over Stu? Or are horror movie fans just doing the most and reading subtext into Scream that was never actually there?
Ahead of last year’s Scream (2022) release, writer Kevin Williamson set the record straight and confirmed that the amorous relationship between Billy and Stu isn’t just meme-fodder. Williamson wrote the original script with real life gay killers Nathan Freudenthal Leopold Jr. and Richard Albert Loeb in mind. Horror fans will know that these men were students at the University of Chicago in the early 1900s whose desire to commit the perfect murder inspired Hitchcock’s classic Rope (1948) and more recently, the Sandra Bullock thriller Murder by Numbers (2002). Williamson urges fans to read about Leopold and Loeb in order to better understand Billy and Stu:
One of the reasons that one could get the other one [to follow] is because I think the other one was secretly in love with him. And it was sort of a fascinating case study on double murderers. If you Google ‘Leopold and Loeb,’ you will see. And you’ll read about it and you’ll get, OK, that’s Billy and Stu.Kevin Williamson, ‘Scream’ Screenwriter Kevin Williamson Confirms Billy and Stu’s Queer-Coded Relationship Was Based on Real Gay Killers
Franchise star Neve Campbell picked up on the queer coding saying that “Maybe some of their anger comes from not being allowed to be who they want to be, if you wanna go there.” In an interview with Pride Source, she also notes that Stu was probably more in love with Billy than the other way around. Williamson agrees, saying “One was the follower and one was the leader.” Pride Source also notes that decades ago Marlon and Shawn Wayans picked up on the subtleties of Billy and Stu’s relationship when they included gay jokes about the pair in the Scream spoof Scary Movie (2000).