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The Righteous Gemstones Gives Us the Queer Kiss We've Been Waiting For

The series's best couple is finally out in the open.
  • Adam Devine in The Righteous Gemstones (Photo: Jake Giles Netter/HBO)
    Adam Devine in The Righteous Gemstones (Photo: Jake Giles Netter/HBO)

    Finally, the most romantic relationship on The Righteous Gemstones gets its moment in the spotlight. Among all the Gemstone family couples, Kelvin (Adam Devine) and Keefe (Tony Cavalero) have always been the two people who seemed to genuinely enjoy being around each other the most, with no hidden agenda. For years they’ve been the series’s will-they/won’t-they pairing, the biggest roadblock seemingly being Kelvin’s unwillingness to admit that he is in fact gay.

    It’s no wonder why he wanted to keep it under wraps — Christianity has a long history of condemning homosexuality, and the Gemstones’ church was built around strong heterosexual family values. But those notions don’t come into play when Kelvin’s coming out moment finally happens in Season 3, Episode 8, “I Will Take You By the Hand and Keep You.” There’s no dramatic come to Jesus moment (literal or figurative) grappling with his sexuality, no tense family conversation; it’s hardly even a plot point in the episode. Kelvin just decides now is the time and kisses Keefe out in the open, with no fear or hesitation.

    The sweetest moment between Keefe and Kelvin actually comes before that. While Keefe is giving Kelvin a very deep tissue butt massage (it wouldn’t be The Righteous Gemstones without some male nudity), he asks Kelvin if he’s dating Taryn (Maggie Winters), the woman who took Keefe’s place as a youth group leader. Kelvin instantly dismisses the thought. “I like doing claps and laughter with you,” he says. “Taryn is nice and all, but she’s not you.”

    The exchange emphasizes that while the pair’s long implied attraction to each other has been the source of plenty of sexual innuendos and homoerotic jokes throughout the series, their connection is about much more than that. It’s been obvious to the viewers and the rest of the Gemstones as well — Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson), and BJ (Tim Baltz) barely bat an eye at Kelvin’s public display of affection, instead giving approving nods and looks of pride now that they know for sure that their brother is getting some.

    Things may have gone differently had the Gemstone siblings not just shared a near-death experience in “Burn For Burn, Wood For Wood, Stripe For Stripe.” This is a trio who more often than not has harshly judged each other’s every move, especially when it comes to romantic relationships. Earlier in the season, Judy’s infidelity was seen as a threat to the church, which is why she paid Kristy (Casey Wilson) $500,000 to sign an NDA about the matter. The revelation that Kelvin and Keefe are in love could have created a scandal, too — if not over religious disapproval of same-sex relationships, then at least because of Keefe’s recent demotion within the church over what was actually Kelvin’s plan to buy and destroy sex toys.

    But post-abduction, the Gemstones feel like golden children — they’re met with a rousing greeting from their congregation upon their return, which bolsters that confidence. And in the aftermath of their experience, they agree that being more true to themselves and sticking together is the key to the church’s success. Jesse and Judy’s support of Kelvin is proof that they mean it.

    Whether or not Kelvin’s sexuality ruffles the feathers of others in his life or the church’s congregation from here remains to be seen. Now that The Righteous Gemstones has been renewed for a fourth season, there’s more space to potentially explore (and skewer, as the show so expertly does) the vocal sect of homophobic Christians. But for now, allowing a high-profile, God-fearing man to confidently come out in the church without conflict feels like a turning point for the Gemstones. For most of their lives they’ve worked hard to appear to be what they thought the perfect leaders of a church would look, act, and talk like. They went to great lengths to hide any part of themselves that didn’t align with that, and looked down on others who didn’t do the same. With a new perspective on life and the freedom to be who they really are, the Gemstones might finally reflect real Christian values of love, acceptance, and compassion.

    The Righteous Gemstones airs Sundays at 10:00 PM ET on HBO and Max. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: The Righteous Gemstones, HBO, Adam Devine, Danny McBride, Edi Patterson, Maggie Winters, Tim Baltz, Tony Cavalero