The Shudder docuseries Queer for Fear wrapped its four-episode run, and I promise I have a full review dropping tomorrow, but just real quick I wanted to touch down on an extremely important piece of information tucked into the horror doc’s haunted hallways: Yellowjackets actor Tawny Cypress is queer.
Cypress appears as a talking head in Queer for Fear right off the bat in episode one, talking candidly about Mary Shelley’s oft-erased-from-history queerness. The second I saw her, I immediately texted fellow Tawny Cypress appreciator Drew Gregory to ask: Wait, did we know she’s out?
We most absolutely did not know! I remember when I first swan dove off a cliff into Yellowjackets and immediately needed to know everything about everyone involved whose oeuvres I was less familiar with. I was best acquainted with Cypress via her run on Heroes, but I didn’t know as much about her personal life as I did when it came to some of her other co-stars. I did what any good homosexual does when encountering an actor playing a queer role whose sexuality I don’t know off the top of my head: I took to Wikipedia. There was, however, very little information on Cypress’s page and nary a Personal Life subsection, where the goods usually are. There as evidence of at least two male partners through the years, but you know, bisexuality exists! Results were inconclusive. Of course, I didn’t hold this ambiguity against her and still do not! Anyone — including celebrities — can choose to be out or not or only out in some contexts.
But her appearance in Queer for Fear immediately heightened my gay spidey senses. Sure, there were some straight talking heads in the series, but they sort of made sense in context, like Anthony Perkins’ son. It didn’t track that Cypress would only be included for playing gay, especially since fellow out queer Yellowjackets co-stars Liv Hewson and Jasmin Savoy Brown also provide talking heads.
Then, in episode two of Queer for Fear, Cypress confidently declares that Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca is “a service bottom.” Like, would a straight person say that???????
I would have been perfectly fine and satisfied if Cypress had still been a little ambiguous about how exactly she identifies. I don’t need any person — again EVEN CELEBRITIES — to provide their dating history to prove anything in terms of queerness.
But in the final installment of Queer for Fear, Cypress does intimately open up about her own queer history. And even though it’s just one small moment in a sprawling docuseries, it warmed my Yellowjackets bear heart — especially because it sort of involves her co-star Melanie Lynskey?! During a segment about Heavenly Creatures, Cypress says the following:
When I was 18, I moved in with my best friend in New York, and I was in love with her. I was truly in love with her. And we went to see Heavenly Creatures *deep sigh* and it changed everything. I took the step. I was like ‘I want to be with you, let’s just live the way we want to live.’ It was life-affirming.
I mean!!! What a truly, incredible story. Heavenly Creatures is such a brutal movie, but I can totally see how going to see it with a best friend who you’re in love with would be absolutely life-changing. And the way Cypress presents it suggests that she is indeed out to some people but maybe just hasn’t shared a ton publicly. Well, sharing your coming out story publicly as part of a queer horror documentary is an iconic move tbh.
“I was rooting 100% for those girls to be together,” Cypress goes on to say about Kate Winslet’s Juliet and Melanie Lynskey’s Pauline. And that’s when it dawned on me that not only is this a beautiful and complex coming out story but also one that involves someone who Cypress went on to be co-stars with.
We haven’t seen a lot of scenes between Cypress as Adult Taissa and Lynskey as Adult Shauna on Yellowjackets so far, but the ones we have seen have been electric and crackling. The diner scene in the first episode, where we see Taissa take an uncharacteristically deferential role to Shauna. The sleepover scene where the two women really, truly connect over the ways they have and have not grown beyond what happened to them in the woods. Cypress and Lynskey have dynamic on-screen chemistry, and this backstory of a Lynskey role being so crucial to Cypress’ understanding of her own queerness absolutely adds fascinating texture for me personally!!!
“If we wanna be us, we wanna be us. And if you don’t want that, it could get ugly,” Cypress says in what is honestly a perfect summation of Heavenly Creatures.
I’m so thrilled that the cast of Yellowjackets includes so many queer actors and specifically — based on Cypress, Liv Hewson, and Jasmin Savoy Brown all doing talking heads in Queer for Fear — queer actors with a love for horror and film history. Now I just need Yellowjackets to announce an official return date so I can get back to my one-true calling of recapping queer cannibalism shows.