Gustavo Fring or Gus Fring is one of the most charismatic villains on TV. He encapsulated the lawful evil trope. Beneath that humble and orderly demeanor is a burning passion for revenge and domination unlike any other. His most recent appearance in Better Call Saul, has shed new light on his characterization, prompting many fans to ask, ‘Was Gustavo Fring gay?’
To preface this discussion, we’re here to remind everyone that Gustavo Fring’s sexuality or preference does not in any way affect whether he is up to Pollos standards or not, nor does it indicate his competence as a villain.
It’s just that the showrunners and creative directors for both AMC shows prefer to drop hints rather than outright announcements, leaving fans to speculate on whether Gustavo Fring was gay or whether the portrayal was up to interpretation.
Better Call Saul Confirmed It
There were plenty of theories on Gus Fring’s homosexuality as early as the cartel flashback scene on Breaking Bad.
Several years later, in Better Call Saul, the showrunners have all but confirmed it in the episode “Fun and Games” from BCS Season 6. There, Gus went to a high-end wine bar after barely surviving an improvised elimination of his most dangerous rival, Lalo Salamanca.
You don’t even need context to feel the sexual or romantic tension from that clip above.
In the wine bar, Gus Fring had a favorite sommelier and bartender named David whom he enjoyed pleasantries with. During the aforementioned episode, however, Gus was notably exchanging some tender or even flirty gestures (for his standards) under the pretense of being a wine connoisseur.
There was an obvious interest here on Gustavo’s part, seeing as he might have gone too long without any romantic or sexual liaison ever since the cartel killed his former partner, and that’s another point we’d have to discuss later below.
And before we spark off a debate, just know that Peter Gould, showrunner for Better Call Saul, has already confirmed in an interview that Gus was gay and was also in a relationship with Max, his former crime partner. Here are more convincing signs for those who are skeptical of the showrunner’s claims.
Gus Never Really Showed Interest in the Opposite Sex
It’s likely that Gus won’t reappear in another spinoff, meaning we’ve already seen all of him in Vince Gilligan’s fictional Albuquerque-verse.
So it’s safe to say that Gus has no interest in women whatsoever, which was odd and unlikely for a typical drug lord. Even drug lords who are straight and loyal to a single person at least tried to start families or tried to maintain one. Gus never displayed any interest in the opposite sex. Neither did he show any warmth to whom he perceived as straight men.
In fact, the only time he was shown genuinely smiling or being gentle is during that interaction with David the wine sommelier, and with his former partner. For a person or villain like Gus, who always had to be in control of his emotions and mannerisms, this was a truly rare display of affection.
Thankfully, we’re not cisgender-centric historians who will chalk up Gus and his former dead partner as just ‘roommates.’
Gus Fring was obviously gay. The faux interest in wine tasting and the perky banter from Gus were dead giveaways.
Gus also sniffed the cork, which was what many wine enthusiasts consider an amateur move, letting himself look vulnerable in front of another person– something he has never done before. Moreover, Gus Fring’s comment to David’s tirade about the intricacies of the particular wine he presented was a simple “remarkable.”
For a drug lord whose extreme caution and cold calculation were tantamount to his being, conversations like this would usually be above Gus. He’s not the type to entertain needless talk, even from himself. So the genuine interest in David the sommelier and his hinting that he’s keeping a special bottle at home for a “special occasion” was an invitation.
Gus Remained Loyal to Max, However
Perhaps one of the many reasons Gus prematurely left the wine bar despite the conspicuous chemistry between him and David was his focus and drive for revenge in Max’s name.
Max was his original partner or lover with whom he aspired to build a drug supply network. He was a gifted chemist whom Gus financed, and the two’s relationship transcended from business partners to lovers.
But the Juárez Cartel gunned and killed Max with impunity while Gus watched in horror and helplessness.
Hence, Gus’ main motivation in the drug trade was cold revenge for his friend and his lover, Max. It’s most likely one of the reasons why Gus left David alone in Better Call Saul despite a clear shot at happiness and recovery.
Gus was worried that he might move on from Max and forget all his plans and everything he worked hard for in his name if he initiated any kind of relationship with David. Or perhaps he couldn’t take the interaction over his guilt, knowing Max was dead and that he was still alive based on the cartel’s whims.
There was even a subtle parallelism on David’s part here where he ridiculed another customer for replacing an expensive wine with a diet Coke. This may or may not have been a metaphor for how Gus sees Max. Max was irreplaceable to Gus, and any other lover who would subsequently enter his life would simply pale in comparison.
In hindsight, it’s a tragic development for Gus’ character despite his homosexuality. He could never love anything again after what Hector Salamanca and the Juárez Cartel did to him and Max.
Still, Better Call Saul fleshing out Gus’ character near the ending was an important milestone for inclusivity in Vince Gilligan’s series. Most of the characters in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul were straight.
Needless to say, they handled that inclusivity statement elegantly yet fiercely, portraying one of the first gay drug lords on TV and also one of pop culture’s most iconic villains– one that took down and outsmarted the whole Mexican cartel. No one else in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul could have achieved that.