Smithers finally came out on The Simpsons – and the story was inspired by the writer’s son

But will Mr Burns return his affection?

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It’s an open secret that has tantalised fans of the Simpsons for years, with hints, half-clues and sly nods peppered throughout the long-running series over decades. But now, finally, all has been revealed – because last night the US audience saw beaten-down assistant Waylon Smithers officially come out as gay, with the episode’s writer revealing that the inspiration came from his own gay son.

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“I am a Midwestern guy, so I don’t tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve,” Simpsons writer Rob LaZebnik told the New York Post. “But I thought, ‘What better way to tell my son I love him than to write a cartoon about it?’” 

“We didn’t really want to have that big moment of ‘I’m out,’ you know?” Mr LaZebnik went on to say of the episode, which sees Smithers give up his unrequited affection for longtime boss Mr Burns and look for love elsewhere with the help of main character Homer.

“Instead, just have it be a big embrace — like everyone knows it.”

“I was the gayest little kid, and my parents knew that,” LaZebnik’s son Johnny added. “I told them I was interested in a boy. My parents were, like, ‘Yeah, we know.’

“The revelation that my father loves me is not much of a revelation, thankfully. He’s unbelievably accepting. We’re as close as a straight dad and a gay son could be.”

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This episode of the Simpsons will air in the UK at a later date