Chandler Massey days jpi

©John Paschal/jpistudios.com

A young Chandler Massey grounded his character’s coming out in a way that made us all want to reassure him that he was still loved.

When Days of Our Lives’ Sonny Kiriakis returned to Salem in 2011, he’d already come out to his parents off screen and arrived in town an out and proud gay man. The twist was refreshing in its simplicity, and relatively drama-free. But everyone’s coming-out story is different, and with parents like Will’s — cough, Sami — we knew his would not be drama-free. Nor would most of that drama even revolve around him.

We’d watched Will grow up on our screens, figuring out life, love and, in time, his own sexuality. We watched him wrestle with the growing realization that he was gay and struggle with the need to share his truth with those he loved. By the time he came out to his parents on May 15, 2012, we were all rooting for the Horton scion to find the love and acceptance he so desperately needed.

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Unfortunately, he chose to come out at probably the worst time imaginable.

The whole ordeal started with a healthy (or is that unhealthy?) dose of family dysfunction. Sami was self-righteously blasting Lucas about keeping EJ’s blackmail of their son from her, while Lucas defended his actions and Will’s decision to keep her in the dark. What’s more, he noted, she seemed more upset about being lied to than about her son’s struggles!

And that’s when Will entered, already on edge, buckling under the weight of his other secret.

Alison Sweeney, Bryan Dattilo"Days of our Lives" SetNBC StudiosBurbank02/16/12© Paul Skipper/jpistudios.com310-657-9661Episode # 11842U.S.Airdate 05/14/12

Seeing his mother suddenly caring about lying set him off. He called her out for her hypocrisy and her own lies that had torn their family apart. Will then demanded to know if she felt she had a right to know everything about him. Sami didn’t hesitate with her nod, and Will bitterly told her to be careful what she wished for. We could see how much his secret was weighing him down, how much he wanted to share it and rid himself of the burden… but he just couldn’t do it.

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Finally, Sami began to climb off her high horse as she realized that something was very, very wrong with her son.  Not that she had the slightest clue about what was to come. Instead, as she tried to coax Will into talking, she bounced back and forth between explaining that lying never works and claiming that some lies were meant to protect loved ones.

Will, she explained, would have to decide for himself what truths were worth telling.

And that was the problem. Was his own truth worth the pain he was sure would come with it? He told his parents that didn’t want to lie to them, but he didn’t think they were ready. Sami, distraught over the pain she saw tearing her son apart, begged him to come clean.

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Whether he saw a glimmer of hope that his mother truly cared and wanted to make things better, was sick of her hypocritical moralizing and wanted to lash out and hurt her, or was just plain worn down and wanted it all to be over, we couldn’t quite tell, but in that moment, Will finally snapped. “I’m gay!” he yelled. And just like that, the truth was out, and we were left there, holding our breath, desperate to know how his parents would react but having to wait for the next day for the fallout to hit.

It wasn’t pretty.

“Why would you say you’re gay?” an incredulous Sami asked. “I’m your mother. I would know if you’re gay, and you’re not!”

Will replied quietly, breaking our hearts a bit when he couldn’t quite make eye contact. “Actually,” he said, “most of the guys I talked to about coming out said their mother always knew, but I didn’t expect you to, really.”

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Sami didn’t move, a look of shock, anger and hurt frozen on her face. Lucas was clearly uncomfortable, but he backed their son up, insisting that Will did know what he was saying and meant it. He apologized for not having realized, but Will went easy on his dad. He hadn’t been around. Sami had. She’d just been wrapped up in her own problems, as always.

But when Will agreed to try talking things through calmly as a family, Sami disappointed him once more. She stammered some nonsense and then ran off, leaving behind her devastated son to fear that she no longer loved him.

Chandler Massey, Freddie Smith, Bryan Dattilo will lucas sonny days jpi

With her gone, though, the focus could finally turn to the person who needed it most: Will.

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Lucas stuck around through the awkwardness and discomfort, asking questions and, most importantly, listening to his son. He hadn’t known, he admitted, but he had noticed Will and Sonny together. And while he did admit he was disappointed, he wanted to make perfectly clear, he wasn’t disappointed in Will but with the struggles he’d now have to face in life.

It wasn’t the warm embrace and loving understanding Will had gotten from Marlena, but Lucas was trying. We ended the day with Will asking his father if he could ever be OK with having a gay son. The answer, at the time, wasn’t clear. And it was even murkier for Sami, who ran off rather than having to face the truth.

But in time, we learned the answer for both of Will’s parents, and they proved their unconditional love by giving him a resounding “yes.”

As we’ve established, Will isn’t the only one in the family to keep a secret or two to himself, so why not check some photos of a few of Sami’s loves and lies while you’re here?