The only thing Richie hates more than Henry Bowers is that fucking clown. But Henry Bowers is right up there with It, they’re pretty neck and neck.
He walks home from the arcade, trying not to let the tears fall. He helps keep the Tozier house practically immaculate to earn enough allowance to fund his gaming habit, and for what? For Bowers to take his safe place and rip it away from him.
As if he’d want to bone Bowers’ ugly ass cousin, he internally scoffs. This is absolute fucking bullshit. He’s so angry, he wishes for a sudden growth spurt so he can go back there and kick the shit out of Bowers. But deep down, Richie is terrified. Bowers knows. And it’s not just that he knows, but he called him out on it in front of everyone. And Richie didn’t even try to deny it. Fuck, this is bad. If people were speculating about it before, they had their answer now.
Richie takes a detour to the park and gets his tears out on a bench. He’s not going to go home crying and he’s definitely not going to walk around town crying, advertising what a weak little fairy he is. Then Pennywise, because apparently dealing with Bowers wasn’t punishment enough, sends a Paul Bunyan statue to attack him and Richie silently wishes to be straight.
When Richie reunites with the Losers, he slowly realizes that he doesn’t need the arcade as a safe place because he has it whenever he’s with them. The group that is so open to everything, they’re sitting here in the club house listening to Ben practically giving a presentation on how exactly he built and improved it, and Eddie’s many objections. These guys are his family. They love him, and maybe they would even accept this.
He looks over at Eddie, rambling on about how easily the roof could cave in and kill them all, and thinks how wonderful it would be to shut him up by kissing him right now. His deepest fantasy is to tell the Losers the truth about him, and then for Eddie to say “me too” and be with him forever.
He opens his mouth to tell them, but stops. Why would they want to keep being friends with him if they knew? Who would want to be friends with a faggot like him anyway?
Richie sits and lets Eddie continue his rambling about whatever potential health risks he’s found, wishing to be straight and wishing even more that he could call that adorable hypochondriac his own.
Maggie Tozier can’t stop fussing with her son’s hair. Richie tries to tell her multiple times that his graduation cap is going to cover whatever she’s trying to do to his hair, but she won’t listen.
“Ma, please,” Richie chuckles.
“You’re my only baby and you’re graduating,” Maggie tries to sound stern, but can’t help her own laughter. “Let me fuss, damnit.” Richie complies, trying not to fidget too much.
Graduation is a blur. One minute he’s sitting, then he’s accepting his diploma, then he’s throwing his cap in the air and shouting “Fuck yeah!” What are they gonna do about it? Yell at him for swearing?
His parents take about a million pictures after. Richie takes a few nice ones before striking a series of ridiculous poses. It’s just such a wonderful night. He’s laughing with his parents and he knows there’s a little cake waiting for him at home. He’s gonna see his friends later. Everything is good.
The good feeling fades later when Wentworth puts an arm around Richie. “What do you think, son? Before you know it, you’ll celebrating with your kid.”
Richie freezes. He doesn’t particularly like kids, much less want them, but even if he did, it’s not like he could make them with any future partners of his. “Uh, I don’t think that’s gonna happen, Dad” he tries to play it off. His parents chuckle.
“Ah, you say that now, Rich. Things change.” Maggie says this with a smile on her face, and Richie knows she’s probably daydreaming of the grandkids that he’s not going to give her.
“You meet a nice girl, settle down...” Wentworth trails off, putting an arm around Maggie instead. Richie shakes his head.
“I really doubt that.” His tone is a bit too serious and he starts to worry if he’s sounding suspicious. He wants to add some stupid joke. That he’s a bachelor for life, that there’s too many ladies out there for him to pick just one, that he’s too hot for just one girl, something. But he just stands there, having this weird gay panic.
“Richie?” Maggie asks gently. He looks up from the ground to see both of his parents visibly worried. Oh fuck. “Is everything alright?”
“Y-yeah, I just...” he needs to say it, just get it over with. He’s eighteen now, who cares? “I just really don’t want kids, okay?” Goddamnit.
His parents exchange looks. Wentworth looks more puzzled than anything, wondering why Richie’s so nervous about not wanting kids. Richie isn’t worried about him. He’s worried about Maggie, who looks like she knows there’s something more to this. “That’s alright, dear” is all she says.
Richie wants to tell them so badly. He only has to say two words. Just say “I’m gay,” simple as that. Just rip it off like a band-aid. His parents are still giving him concerned looks and he feels obligated to say something to clear the air. Richie takes a deep breath, trying to control his spinning thoughts.
He stuffs another slice of cake into his mouth and lets the matter drop completely.
Richie can’t believe what he’s seeing. He just ran to the store to blow what little money he has left after paying his rent and bills on something to eat, but he stops when he sees a magazine at the checkout. TIME Magazine, to be exact. And there’s a comedian, the very thing he wants to be, on the cover. It’s Ellen DeGeneres and she’s posing right next to the words “Yep. I’m Gay.”
Richie’s head is spinning. He grabs the magazine and walks away from the counter, pretending to go look for some more food. There’s no way he can afford this magazine right now, so he’s gonna read it while he can. An openly gay comedian as big as Ellen. Holy fucking shit.
This can’t be real, he thinks. Someone can make it as big as Ellen in the comedy circuit and come out as gay. His career is barely starting, but maybe he could be like her one day, an openly gay comedian. That’s exactly what he wants.
He can’t go through with it. He writes some material about being gay for his next performance, but when he’s up on stage he reverts back to his old jokes. Richie tells himself “next time” after every show, and it’s always a lie.
Richie watches all the backlash Ellen gets and decides to play it safe. He soon lands an agent, who tells him what jokes he wants Richie to stick with and what he wants him to scrap. Less jokes about childhood, more jokes about sex. He soon hires a team of writers for Richie to make sure he keeps up with this image and tells the right jokes.
The thing that really gets him is when the writing staff shows him a new joke for his act, about him accidentally walking around for an entire day with his face smelling like pussy. It takes all of his energy not to recoil when he reads it. He wants to tell everybody at this meeting that this joke sucks. It’s gross and he’s gay and he’s never even seen a naked woman in his life. (In person, that is.) He keeps it to himself, telling himself “next time.”
Next time never comes.
Richie’s over it. It’s not that he doesn’t love being a comedian, it’s all he’s ever wanted, he just isn’t into doing it this way. He cringes every time his writing staff hands him a new script and he reads all the jokes he’s supposed to tell about being this slightly misogynistic douchebag who fucks all these ladies.
It was totally funny back in the day when he would tell jokes about fucking his friends’ moms (whoever his friends were, whatever their moms looked like), and still kind of funny when he‘s drunk enough to do it to his current friend group, but it’s not funny doing it on stage now. Bragging about having a big dick and getting a lot of women was funny at thirteen, but it‘s flat out embarassing at thirty-one.
But his audience eats it up, so why stop? This is what got him famous. He’s Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier, the guy who says the filthiest shit imaginable and then some.
Now his writing team wants to add him having a girlfriend to his material sometime soon. They’re going back and forth on whether they should say they just started dating or that they’ve been dating for a couple years, trying to think of a good reason for him not mentioning her until now, what joke they’re going to introduce her with.
All Richie can do is sit there and think. What would he know about having a romantic partner? He’s been on maybe one or two actual dates in his life with a few drunken one night stands in between. That all stopped once when his career started to take off. It’s been about six or seven years since he’s been able to be with a man in any capacity, can’t risk anyone finding out.
He’s even had a few dates since he really got famous, all with women. He enjoyed their company enough, but when it came time for the date to end he immediately rejected any offer to go home with them. The girls were, understandably, surprised that Richie Trashmouth of all people would reject sex, but Richie was firm.
“I don’t know, guys, I don’t see what having a girlfriend would do for my material anyway” is all he can offer when the writers look at him expectantly for ideas.
“Come on, Rich,” one of them sighs. “You’re a funny guy. You’ve got to have something.”
It would be so easy to just say it now. He’s getting desperate to get it off his chest. It would probably kill his career, but at least it would be the truth. The two words are on the tip of his tongue, but he swallows them instead. In 2010, Richie finally gives up and debuts the finalized material they wrote for him about a fake girlfriend.
If Ellen’s coming out shocked him eighteen years ago, nothing could have prepared him for how dumbfounded he would be the day he woke up and saw that gay marriage was legalized in all fifty states. It’s the first thing he sees when he opens his phone and checks his Twitter. He’s home alone, so he has no shame about tearing up slightly when he reads about it.
“Oh my god” he whispers to himself. He’s thirty-nine, single, hasn’t even gotten to hold a man’s hand since he was twenty-five, but he feels a sense of triumph.
No one knows he’s gay. Not his fans, not the people he works with, not the friends he sort of has. Hell, his parents didn’t know before they passed. (Richie will always regret not being honest with them.) He has no one to celebrate with, but he doesn’t fucking care.
He has a distant memory of someone, long ago, before he locked himself in the closet permanently. Must have been one of his early dates. He faintly remembers soft brown hair and doe eyes before realizing that basically every guy he was ever with had brown hair and brown eyes. “Guess I have a type” he mumbles to himself.
Something about this particular guy was special. Like he could have been the one Richie would be able to marry right now. Richie doesn’t know who he is, but he misses him. He feels like he should be celebrating with this guy, whoever he is, then going ring shopping later. Richie tries to ignore the tiny cracks in his heart and pushes the thought of what could have been out of his head. This is still big. Maybe one day he really could fall in love and marry someone.
Richie goes to Tweet something. It would be ridiculously easy to come out with a Tweet right now. Show his excitement for the news and finally get this off his chest, kill two birds with one stone.
He types “I’ve been waiting since middle school to finally say this- I’m gay”, then frowns and deletes it. He wonders if anyone would even believe him. He’s spent nearly two decades proclaiming his heterosexuality to the public. If anything, people would probably think it was some sick joke.
The temptation is definitely still there, but he types out “no jokes from me today, this is great news #lovewins” and tweets that instead. He doesn’t come out, but he still feels freer than he has in awhile. One day he will. One day.
When he looks at his replies later and reads tweets of some of his fans calling him a “liberal sellout” and insisting that he “stick to jokes and stop the political shit”, he feels just as trapped as he did as a teenager.
When the memories came flooding back in as he drove into Derry for the first time in way too many years, one of the first things Richie remembers is how much he hates Pennywise. He really, really hates that fucking clown. Torturing him and his friends, nearly killing Stanley, nearly killing Eddie, his love, right in front of him, fucking taunting him about his “dirty little secret.” He can’t help smirking at It while he watches it finally die.
When they’re all back at the hotel, celebrating their victory with drinks, Richie thinks about how lucky he is to have them. Everybody’s having a good time, even Stan, who is on Facetime with Mike after getting home from the hospital.
Richie, however, is lost in his own thoughts. He thinks about Adrian Mellon, the poor guy who was killed right before he came here and the things people said to him almost thirty years before that. About how he’s a fag, and faggots like him don’t belong in Derry or anywhere else. He shudders and takes another sip of his drink.
But then Richie thinks about how wonderful the people around him right now are. Everyone here has moved on from Derry, even Mike, despite him staying here. They don’t think like the people here. They love him and they’ve even fucking killed for him. He remembers what Pennywise said to taunt him and decides he doesn’t want this to be his “dirty little secret” anymore. He’s wasted forty years of his life hiding this, enough is enough.
It’s definitely the alcohol giving him courage when he says, “Hey guys? Real talk for a second?”
They all look at him, worried. “What’s going on, Rich?” Ben asks. Richie takes a deep breath.
“This is, um. This is something that I dealt with for years here in Derry and then when we got back, the- the fucking clown taunted me about this too. Uh,” he looks around and sees the looks on his friends’ faces become even more concerned. Like his parents’ faces when he tried to tell them all those years ago. He’s not going to blow it this time. He tries to choke back the tears forming. “I’ve wanted to say this since middle school and I, I just can’t. I’m gay.”
He freezes. He actually said it, out loud, in front of people. He came out. His head is spinning faster than it’s ever spun in his life. Starting now he’s Richie Tozier, an openly gay man.
Bev is the first to speak. “Oh, Richie” she says softly, pulling him in for a hug. He feels himself shaking. His face is burried in Bev’s shoulder, but he feels four more people join in.
He finally laughs when he hears Stan’s voice from Mike’s phone say, “I can’t hug you right now, Richie, but you know I love you.”
Richie looks at Eddie, who seems lost in his own thought. He immediately starts panicking again. Coming out was half the battle, but now Richie has to address his crush on Eddie. Is Eddie secretly disgusted with Richie? He looks like he might be secretly disgusted.
Richie says that he needs a moment and excuses himself upstairs. The tears come back as he makes his way into his room. Eddie thinks he’s gross, Richie’s positive. Maybe he realized Richie is in love with him and that’s why he’s grossed out? He is married to a woman, somehow, and Richie didn’t exactly do a great job of disguising his disappointment when he found out.
He tries to ignore the fact that the love of his life now hates him as he thinks about the people that do love him. Mike, Bill, Stan, Ben, Beverly. He came out to them and they immediately accepted him-
His thoughts are cut off by a knock at the door. “Come in” he says weakly, trying his best to sound okay. The door opens and he sees Eddie in the door frame, looking pensive. Richie doesn’t know what to think.
“Hey Richie?” Eddie asks, chewing on his bottom lip.
“Yeah?” Richie says, forgetting how to breathe for a moment. Eddie gives a soft, shy smile as he meets Richie’s gaze.