Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

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Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by americanshameless on January 13th 2012, 8:51 pm

For eg, when they first met in the film? (Since they were childhood friends, right?) Did he already know at that point or did he not know till when Jeanne told him about Shaun during the bathroom/shower scene?


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Re: Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by xKJx on August 17th 2012, 9:53 pm

I wish someone would answer this. I'd also like to confirm.


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Re: Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by eric85 on August 22nd 2012, 7:41 pm

Great question. I've wondered myself. But the only clue is the conversation between Shaun and Zach on the way back to the car from surfing. This is the long scene where they carry their boards and talk at the same time. Shaun says, "I didn't know you ever knew about me." That suggests that Zach knew at least since reading Shaun's book. What's that? A couple of years? Maybe longer? Wouldn't Gabe have said something earlier? Maybe not. Your take?

And thanks for putting some life back into this forum. It's been quiet waaaay too long.


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Re: Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by sika on October 28th 2012, 4:55 am

I think the first clue is in the fire on beach scene when Billy made a comment about Zack being a fag...Zack immediately (quickly) looked at Shaun...and then gave Billy an angry look showing how Zack is concerned about Shaun feeling the insult. Zack has always known, probably as early as Gabe (remember they are best friends who tell each other everything).
In fact, I think this is why Zack read Shaun's book without telling anyone he did. I bet Zack has been curious about Shaun for a long time.


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Re: Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by Lfoster1 on May 5th 2013, 3:38 am

I believe he did know because he wasn't bothered at all. It's sweet how much they cared for each others feelings


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Re: Has Zach always known about Shaun's sexuality?

Post by Katski on July 27th 2015, 9:36 am

Hi, finally found the place where people discuss this film. I love it so much I wrote a meta which I must get round to posting somewhere :-)

My thinking is as Sika and Eric85 above say:

- Zach's quick glance at Shaun when the 'fag' word is used  on the bonfire scene (which also sets up the word as a trigger for Shaun - when Zach later uses it in the car scene I think that's what triggers Shaun's breakdown too). Zach looks anxious. Zach immediately gets up and follows Shaun. He KNOWS this is going to upset him.

- The discussion on the beach after Billy's question: Zach asks Shaun if he's seeing anyone and uses gender neutral pronouns, and Shaun's reply is carefully phrased too - because Shaun isn't aware that that Zach knows.

- The second day walking along the beach path scene. I think this should be read at a few levels:
- Surface level: Zach didn't know Shaun was a writer, or rather Shaun didn't think he knew. "I didn't know you - knew about me." There's a slight hesitation in the delivery which suggests it's not just about the book.
Symbolism and reality:
Shaun's book contains some material which suggests he is gay. Zach has read this. Therefore Shaun realises Zach must know he is gay. "I didn't know you knew about me" - I didn't know you knew I was gay.

3. The writing is symbolic.Arts=Hearts. Shaun's had about 3 years of writer's block. It's about a similar time since he last saw Zach. Whoever Shaun was living with, he clearly wasn't inspiring him. Yet after he sees Zach again he starts reading and writing with renewed enthusiasm (and Zach's art work is similarly inspired - using red, colour of passion). When Zach asks what the new book is about, Shaun replies he's still figuring it out. He doesn't know who the next book (relationship) will be about, but he's starting to try to figure out who it will be (trying to read Zach's mixed signals).

4. I love this bit: When Shaun says 'Funny, Gabe didn't mention' (that Zach had read the book/knew he was gay), and Zach replies something like 'I didn't tell him, why would he tell you?' Shaun sort of scratches his face and looks a little embarrassed, and shoots a quick look at Zach. I read from that that Gabe knew that Shaun was a little interested in Zach and should have been expected to report back on any such interesting developments.

The fact that Shaun realises Zach knows is what gives Shaun the 'permission' to kiss him (and even then Shaun is very cautious). If Zach hadn't known then I think Shaun would have waited a lot longer. As he knows Zach knows he, Shaun is gay, then it puts a new potential interpretation on their sudden near obsession with spending time together, and touching and flirting. Not that you can't do these things platonically, but if it was a girl and guy on that futon that play fighting would probably mean something, and so Shaun could reasonably expect that a nice guy like Zach is going to be careful about giving out the wrong signal.

It's a not very secret secret - Jeanne knows Shaun's gay despite the fact that it seems unlikely her friendship group and Shaun's coincides. Billy's comment about 'gone all Hollywood' sounds to me like a euphemism, in which case his subsequent 'fag' comment is even more unpleasant. Tori must know (1) the way she looks Shaun up and down when they meet on the beach, and (2) the fact she figures out quite quickly there's something going on. It would be quite a stretch to figure out if you didn't think either Shaun or Zach was gay, but if you know Shaun is gay and Zach suddenly becomes very close, well, that would make you wonder.

Shelter is beautifully, sparsely, written. Nothing is said which isn't relevant to some aspect of the plot, subplot, symbolism, foreshadowing etc.


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